While Idle’s previous titles (Flora and the Flamingo, 2013, etc.) feature her young, white dancer with a single avian partner, this story presents a pas de trois.
The challenge, therefore, is how to manage balance: on the stage, across a double-page spread, among friends. The choreography creates the narrative in this wordless performance, with opportunities for audience participation via flaps. In the opening scene, a fan-wielding Flora poses alone; the peacocks are paired. Wispy willow branches form a proscenium arch atop the extravagant white backdrop. The dancers are arrayed in coordinated teal and green splendor with yellow highlights. When one bird crosses the gutter, a dance ensues on the verso, a drama on the recto. The birds’ parallel symmetry is now inverted: the partners reach up, the lone peacock disdainfully displays downward. As Flora plants a foot on each page, readers decide whether to make tails match or contrast. They are also the agents for a tug of war over the fan. Idle’s nuanced postures and expressions capture the peacocks’ wounded pride perfectly. When the fragile prop breaks in a climactic close-up, the despondent protagonist stalks off the page. The birds find a solution, and a glorious gatefold, measuring 18 by 33 inches, puts a joyful Flora at the center of a dazzling and harmonious display.
Design, engineering, and art intersect to deliver a virtuoso interpretation of the pitfalls and pleasures of triads. (Picture book. 3-7)