Gorgeous artwork and an unusual subject will likely boost the appeal of this (literal and figurative) flight of fancy.
After starting with a single-page, sun-warmed portrait of a Tucson young boy, Jessell’s realistic paintings stretch across a series of two-page spreads to offer stunning vistas. Speaking in the first person, the boy describes how he would fly, what he might see and how other animals would respond, “If I were a falcon…” Close-ups show the falcon’s sharp gaze, strong wings and fierce beak, all attributes alluded to in the brief, lyrical text. Shifts in perspective provide visual interest and amplify the impact of the prose, as when a blue jay and starling, viewed from below, peer warily up at the falcon flying high overhead. Cliffs, mountains, ocean waves and city skyscrapers loom large, and for the most part realism prevails, though there is just a touch of anthropomorphism (and humor) when the falcon dive-bombs startled pedestrians. The story then comes full circle, back to the boy, this time depicted running across the field, mimicking the falcon’s flight and wishing “Oh, if only I were a falcon…”
The initial rural setting and avian protagonist may be unfamiliar to some readers, but the author/artist’s admiration for the beauty of the natural world and the fascination of imagining another life shine through clearly. (Picture book. 4-7)