I had several picture books that helped me get out of the reading slump I found myself in recently, but these two were part of an original five that, while I did not necessarily like them 100%, they made me stop and think, “Who would love these? I know there is a forever home for each of them.” To put them in one review might seem odd at first, but they work nicely together not because of their themes so much, but their tones invoke similar reactions.
When You Need Wings is a book about fear. It shows you when you try, you can conquer that fear. Basic text by Lita Judge and their illustrations detail a child’s journey into trying something new. Our young character (without the usual safeguard of a parent with them) must deal with a new situation. It is as funny and sweet as it is somber. The child of the story imagines the playground filled with the “scary kids” as animals that want to play. When we come out of the imagination element, we see which child was which due to clever hints. It is a light, comfortable story, even though it is a serious subject. The art is bright but uses shadows to help show playfulness. The colors are muted, but not drained or colorless. Overall it is a book to relax with. It is a spiritual book without being overly preachy.
Another book dealing with doing your best, but also learning about time and change, is The Moon Keeper by Zosienka. Perhaps what makes The Moon Keeper a unique story of time and the changes it brings, is her background. Born to Polish and English parents in South Africa, her travels and finally living in London is probably what brings out the old-world folktale imagery, yet the book is also modern. Spiritual in nature, we watch a bear be chosen to watch the moon. He prepares perfectly for this task by getting the tools he needs and by talking to the moon. But despite his best efforts, he realizes the moon is changing and is getting smaller. He feels he has failed in his duties. Yet, a special friend shows our hero that things all have its time and things will come around again. Zosienka’s art and text create another cozy read that invokes a calm result.
Both books created a calmness when reading. They should not be rushed through when reading. You should enjoy the details of the page. There is more to the story than at first meets the eye. Both are good for the younger reader, but all ages can find something to enjoy.