Courage to Fly


Alberta Children's Book of the Year

Alberta Book Illustration of the Year

Can she find courage in her new big city home?

Meg is new to the city with its tall buildings and long shadows. It's nothing like her Caribbean home. Here, the city closes in on her and she feels safe in her bedroom. But gradually she begins to discover that there's ...

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Alberta Children's Book of the Year

Alberta Book Illustration of the Year

Can she find courage in her new big city home?

Meg is new to the city with its tall buildings and long shadows. It's nothing like her Caribbean home. Here, the city closes in on her and she feels safe in her bedroom. But gradually she begins to discover that there's more to the city than she thought. For instance, there's the Chinese man who exercises in the courtyard near her apartment. His exercises are intricate and graceful, and they have interesting names.

One day on her way home from school, Meg finds a tiny swallow brought down by a sudden early snowstorm, and she takes it home to nurse it. Once it is better, she is reluctant to let the bird go, but her mother and the Chinese man both gently suggest that the bird needs to be free if it is going to live. Meg and her new friend, Jenny, both release the bird.

Courage to Fly captures the anxiety of a child who is alone in a new and strange world but whose imagination and courage are nourished by unexpected friendships.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Contrivances and a protracted narrative hamper this Canadian offering about a Caribbean girl struggling to adjust to a northern city. Meg is first met "huddled small inside herself like a frightened bird. Apartment towers were dark fingers blocking the sun." She spends most of her time in her apartment, the only place she feels safe. When she rescues a frozen swallow after a snowstorm, she is later reluctant to set it free from its protective box. Harrison's (Goodbye to Atlantis) lengthy, image-heavy chunks of text-especially sequences about a wise old Chinese man who practices martial arts in Meg's courtyard and whose "gentle eyes seemed to look right into her heart"-might lose the attention of younger readers. Huang (Buddha in the Garden) creates a meaningful contrast between outside scenes, rendered in cool grays and blues, and the warmer, comforting hues found inside Meg's home. While his soft lines, fuzzy edges and muted palette impart a peaceful tone, they don't quicken the drawn-out narrative. Nor are they enough to shake the work from its reliance on clich d analogy and stereotype. Ages 4-7. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Meg and her family have left a serene Caribbean island to live in the big city. Everything frightens her and she feels safe only inside her own apartment. One day, during an early snowfall, she rescues a swallow from freezing. When she enlists her mother and the elderly Asian man who exercises in the courtyard to help her with it, they gently advise that she give the bird a chance to be courageous and try to fly south. The girl realizes they are right and releases the bird, as she herself takes her first willing steps outside and makes a friend. This oversized book is beautifully illustrated in lovely pastel watercolors, depicting Meg's gradual blossoming independence with soft realism. It's a good choice to read to a timid child, and should have a place in most collections.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A purposeful tale of a shy "island" child in the big city who emerges from her shell after caring for an injured bird. Sad, homesick, and intimidated by the tall buildings around her, Meg holes up in her room when she's not at school. Until, that is, she brings home a swallow she's found lying in the snow, and instead of trying to keep it in a box until spring, follows the advice of her mother and an old Chinese man, and sets it free. Huang (Buddha in the Garden, not reviewed, etc.) depicts the pigtailed protagonist and those around her in a realistic style; a muted palette gives the art a somber tone overall, but Meg and others make enough eye contact with viewers to create an inviting intimacy. Though the writing is so laced with metaphors and double meanings that even the old man's tai-chi positions carry direct significance-"This move is called Swallow Skims Water . . . and this one is Swallows Penetrate Clouds. There are no clouds and no lakes inside a box," he tells Meg-children who are themselves lonely new arrivals, seeing her escape from a self-imposed isolation, may be encouraged to do likewise. (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780889953611
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Troon Harrison's children's books have been published in five languages and seven countries. Her works have earned her a Blue Spruce Award, an Honor Book citation from Storytelling World, an Honor Book citation from the Society of School Librarians International and an Outstanding citation from the Parent Council of America. Visit her website at

Zhong-Yang Huang has been painting since he was four years old. His previous children's picture book illustrations include The Dragon New Year, The Great Race: A Chinese Zodiac, nominated for the Governor General's Award for Illustration, The Mermaid's Muse: The Legend of the Dragon Boats and Buddha in the Garden. His striking paintings can be found in private and corporate collections around the world.

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