A young bird overcomes his fears and learns how to fly in this debut illustrated children’s book.
Willy, a little sparrow, lives with his parents and siblings in a warm, cozy nest. When the day comes for the young sparrows’ first flying lesson, they are all excited—all but Willy. The truth is, he’s afraid to fly, no matter how many times his parents encourage him, telling him how much fun he could have. And this is a problem, because the autumn migration looms. Willy’s mother takes her brood to The Fine Feathers Flying School, where Capt. Featherblower—equipped with leather cap, goggles, and an aviator’s white scarf—instructs all the young birds. But when it’s Willy’s turn, he just falls off the runway. With all his friends laughing at him, Willy decides he’d rather walk than fly. Meeting some ducklings and a rabbit, Willy thinks it might be more fun to swim or run fast as they do. But he finds the pond water cold. He fails to keep up with his rabbit friend—and finally realizes that it’s getting very late for dinner. Willy, now understanding that only flying will get him home on time, gains new determination to face his fears and try again. He discovers not only that he can fly, but that it’s just as much fun as everyone said. In her debut book, Smith draws on her experience as a psychotherapist to address children’s fears about trying their wings. Willy’s first flying lesson shows how focusing on failure can create it: “Instead of watching where he was supposed to go, Willy kept looking fearfully into the sky above.” While pointing out Willy’s evasions and anxieties, Smith never makes fun of them. Success isn’t effortless for Willy—he really has to work at flying as well as facing his fear—but the book does a superb job of showing the rewards in Willy’s newfound independence. The writing avoids didacticism and remains lively and amusing, helped out by Martin’s expressively comic, charming illustrations.
An appealing story for young children that nicely demonstrates confronting and overcoming challenges.