I must admit that I never even heard of Flora and the Flamingo before the names of the Caldecott winners were released. What a travesty it would have been if this little gem had not been included among the Caldecott Honors! While this pictoral ode to ballet might be simple, the illustrations are exquisitely crafted, covering a wide range of poses. The flamingo's grace and beauty are remarkable. (And I've never thought of flamingoes as particularly graceful. They usually appear more awkward and knobby-kneed.) Flora's earnest mimicry will make you fall in love beginning on the first page. The flamingo begins by haughtily performing the most difficult dance moves for Flora to follow. By the end, their synchronicity becomes fluid, and the flamingo appears to be enjoying his little dancing shadow.
Artistically, Flora and the Flamingo is a fascinating study. From the contrast in characters, long, lean flamingo and small plump child, to the tree blossom framing, each page is perfectly balanced and more striking than the previous. In addition to the lovely illustration, the lift-the-flap aspect of many pages will thrill many-a young child, and will add additional storytelling options to this dynamic work. It might have taken me a few years to fully appreciate the wordless children's book, but this is a fine example of that genre's ability to shine.
You can find Flora and the Flamingo in the Picture Books - Summer section of The Book Children Store.