Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Practice Can Make Perfection

It's not an easy lesson but it's based in truth.  It seems the younger you are, the more you struggle with the art of mistakes, the art of trying something over and over again.  It's a rarity if someone reaches their ideal after a single attempt.

When we see the end result, an accomplishment, we have no idea how much effort was given to achieve that outcome.  Newbery Medalist (The One and Only Ivan, HarperCollinsPublishers, January 17, 2012) Katherine Applegate in collaboration with illustrator Jennifer Black Reinhardt (Blue EthelMargaret Ferguson BooksFarrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC, May 30, 2017) remind us of the endeavors prior to amazing and lasting deeds.  Sometimes You Fly (Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 3, 2018) asks us to never give up.

Before the cake . . .

Unless you are in the presence of the cook, you have no idea of the commotion in the realm of the kitchen prior to any portion of a meal being served.  Some desserts are particularly difficult, especially if you are not a culinary expert or a chef.  Babies find some activities like the act of eating something undesirable or struggling to find happiness in the hugging of a beloved toy more challenging than older children . . . usually.

If you are not a duck, the act of getting into wading pool is downright terrifying but it makes enjoying the sea much better if you embrace the wonder of water with comfortable caution.  Each act, regardless of how small, can lead to greater exploits.  We grow with every attempt.

Reaching out to people, supporting them and believing in them, can form permanent partnerships.  Academic achievement is based on study.  Being a member of a team requires dedication.

Raise your hand if you remember your driver's education teacher and all those lessons and the joy of driving alone in your first car.  Each time we try something new repeatedly, each time we overcome adversity, we get better at whatever we are seeking to do.  We get better at life.

An almost melodic rhythm is established with the twelve phrases written by Katherine Applegate prior to the five final sentences.  Two words, before the, are followed by a single word in these twelve phrases.  The single words are familiar to most of us.  Many of them are laden with memories.  The words in the second and fourth phrases rhyme.

With the five final sentences Katherine Applegate ties the phrases together and brings us back to the beginning.  It is done with love for her readers and the art of storytelling.  Here is the first of the final five sentences.

Each recipe we undertake
can rise or fall,
can burn or bake.

Rendered in ink and watercolor the art of illustrator Jennifer Black Reinhardt is tender, heartwarming and inviting.  As evidenced by the front of the dust jacket her delicate details, fine lines and realistic color choices ask us to join the characters in her images. Who wouldn't want to run after a flying kite?  To the left, on the back, two children within a loose circle are bending over a newly planted seed.  You can almost feel them willing it to grow.  A trowel and seed packet is lying nearby.  The girl is holding a watering can.

Without spoiling the book case for you, rest assured the theme of the book is portrayed on the front and the back on a canvas of another sunny day outside.  A bright, sky blue covers the opening and closing endpapers.  The dog shown on the front of the dust jacket gazes at the kite lying in the grass beneath the text on the title page.

A single page is devoted to a picture with Katherine's opening phrases.  These are followed by another single page, a wordless picture depicting the merriment found in success.  Jennifer's interpretation of the text goes straight to your heart.  Liberal use of white space frames the first picture but the second visual fills the following page.  A fine black line is used as a border.

For the final triumphant effect Jennifer gives us an expansive two-page illustration with an element soaring as if it's a kite.  A blend of small images on several pages and two-page pictures bring us to the final visual which will have readers wondering what might happen next.  There is a lingering feeling of suspense.

One of my many favorite illustrations follows the phrase

before the know . . .

A girl is tucked in bed but sitting up reading a book.  The scalloped headboard and footboard of her bed are softened in shadow as is most of the illustration.  We can see a goldfish swimming in a bowl next to her bed.  Stuffed toy animals are snuggled next to her.  A family cat sits on the bed.  An overhead lamp attached to the bed creates a cone of light in those shadows lighting her up as she reads.  This is a universal moment for many.

When you finish reading Sometimes You Fly written by Katherine Applegate with illustrations by Jennifer Black Reinhardt the first time and the second time (and all the other times) you feel your spirit lighten.  This is a book reinforcing the importance of making mistakes, learning from them and persisting.  Our efforts will be rewarded.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.

To discover more about Katherine Applegate and Jennifer Black Reinhardt and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  Katherine and Jennifer are both on Twitter and Instagram. (Katherine and Jennifer)  Sometimes You Fly has its own website.  There is quite a bit of art on Jennifer's blog.  You'll enjoy the article at Picture Book Builders about why this book was made.  Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher, premiered the book trailer on his site, Watch. Connect. Read.  You'll want to read the interview of both Katherine and Jennifer there.


  1. Great review, Margie! I love, love, love this beautiful book and it's message, too.

    1. Thank you Katrina. I think this is one of those books you will be gifting over and over again.