We were traveling from northern Michigan back downstate to our homes. The views from the two-seat airplane were spectacular. Riding with a pilot known for his excellent flying abilities provided a sense of safety until . . . he did a loop-de-loop. YIKES! Who knew your legs could turn into cooked noodles in a matter of seconds. For a girl with no fear of heights, this was an epic moment.
Safely back on the runway at a nearby small town airport, my self-assurance at being above ground was shattered and replaced with unease. There were times in the following years when this was set aside to help others with a greater fear than mine or when a foot of snow needed to be shoveled off a roof. The confidence and courage were still present but the distress at being up was stronger. Little Iffy Learns To Fly (Two Lions, October 17, 2017) written and illustrated by Aaron Zenz is certain to strike a chord with anyone fearful of taking the first step (or flap) in realizing their full potential.
Little Iffy is a bitty griffin.
Griffins are part lion
and part eagle.
The eagle part of Little Iffy prefers to have both feet planted on the ground. The slightest sound startles this gentle soul. As he watches his red balloon drift away, he knows he won't fly. He knows he won't go up to get it.
Down is Little Iffy's favorite word. Down feels safe. Down is rock solid.
Little Iffy's friends have other ideas. They want him to fly. Eggs Pegasus is full of plans. It's one of her best qualities. A swing set, a long slide and a tower of friends are essential to possible success. With each suggestion Little Iffy has the same reply. He finally sits at
place he can find.
Suddenly, through no part of any plan, Little Iffy is in the up-est place he was avoiding. Grabbing hold of that which he lost, an earlier fright places him in even greater jeopardy. Down takes on a whole new meaning. So does up.
The simple sentences in the narrative and conversations penned by Aaron Zenz leave no doubt as to Little Iffy's whole attitude on flying. With a few more page turns we are also aware of the support Little Iffy has in his group of friends. They recognize his fear but offer encouragement whenever they can.
A repetition of key words and phrases welcomes reader participation. Aaron interjects humor in the unexpected element during the last of three plans. It's guaranteed to trigger laughter.
Upon opening the book case the scene on the front extends over the spine to the left on the back. Little Iffy's three additional friends are smiling and talking as they lean in from the left edge. Clearly Eggs Pegasus wants her friend to fly but he's certainly not ready. His fearful look is in direct contrast to the expressions on his friends' faces. The cheerful pastel colors on the case are found throughout the title. A rich purple covers the opening and closing endpapers.
Digitally rendered the illustrations begin to tell their story on the title page with a happy Little Iffy holding a red balloon. Aaron alters the picture sizes from two pages to single pages to assist with the pacing of his narrative. A crisp white, pale blue or pale yellow background is perfect to draw our attention to his characters.
Readers will readily identify with Little Iffy. I'll bet younger gals and guys have been in many of the shown body postures at one time or another. What's really wonderful is the way Aaron uses a balloon and bee several times to enhance his story.
One of my favorite of many illustrations is when the unplanned element is introduced into the story. As our eyes move from left to right, even before seeing what happens to Little Iffy, we know a huge surprise is coming. The looks on the three friends' faces are anything but happy. Aaron Zenz cleverly leaves it to readers to guess what Little Iffy is thinking and feeling.
Little Iffy Learns To Fly written and illustrated by Aaron Zenz expresses with utter charm the joy found when we do the thing we think we can't do. Young readers are going to want to hear this story read to them repeatedly. And you will gladly comply. You will want to have a copy on your professional and personal shelves.
To discover more about Aaron Zenz and his other work, please visit his website by following the link attached to his name. Aaron maintains an Instagram account filled with his delightful artwork. Aaron wrote a guest post for the Nerdy Book Club, The Family Who Reads. School Library Journal hosts The Yarn podcast when Aaron visited Travis Jonker's school for an author visit, Anatomy of an Author Visit with Aaron Zenz. Author and educator extraordinaire, Colby Sharp, showcases Aaron at one of his 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 interviews on SHARPREAD. Aaron visits All The Wonders, Episode 280 with librarian Matthew Winner. I know you will enjoy reading about Aaron's spectacular project at Artprize.
Be sure to visit the other stops on this blog tour. You'll read some fantastic interviews, book reviews and get to see loads of artwork in the process of creating this book. Have fun!
Monday December 4: Mile High Reading
Tuesday December 5: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Wednesday December 6: 100 Scope Notes
Thursday December 7: Everead
Friday December 8: Librarian's Quest
Saturday December 9: Amanda's Pile of Books
Sunday December 10: Kids Talk Kid Lit
Tuesday December 19: Nerdy Book Club
Monday January 1: Picturebooking Podcast