Fly!

Overview

Jawanza watches everything from his window. He watches the children running and playing below, but most of all he watches the birds write all over the sky scribbling their crazy bird clouds. When he steps outside and meets Roderick the Three and his ensemble of feathered friends, he discovers a unique and unexpected friendship. Award-winning author/illustrator Christopher Myers brings us a thoughtful look at the beauty of friendship with Fly.

On the roof of his ...

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Overview

Jawanza watches everything from his window. He watches the children running and playing below, but most of all he watches the birds write all over the sky scribbling their crazy bird clouds. When he steps outside and meets Roderick the Three and his ensemble of feathered friends, he discovers a unique and unexpected friendship. Award-winning author/illustrator Christopher Myers brings us a thoughtful look at the beauty of friendship with Fly.

On the roof of his building, lonely Jawanza meets a homeless man who teaches him how to make friends with the sparrows and pigeons up there.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Myers revisits the theme of flight he explored in his mythically inspired Wings, this time with a more earthbound lesson in friendship. As a lone boy sits high atop his apartment building, he observes "a twisting river of birds flying patterns above my house." An emerald-green background emphasizes the boy's downcast expression; the darkness seems to weigh upon him, despite his sunny yellow shirt. The artist then shifts the perspective from the exterior view of the window to the shadowy interior of the apartment the flying pigeons outside the window dominate the vignettes. As the boy voices his frustration at being trapped inside, he yells at the pigeons, until a voice comes from the rooftop "like grits and gravy rains through the window." The voice belongs to the birds' keeper, an older man dressed in white "his skin is dark brown, the color of church wood, and sharp at the edges." He becomes the boy's unlikely instructor in the ways of friendship. As the boy ascends the stairs to the roof, his very clothing reflects the inevitable transition he undergoes: his magenta pants blend with the stairwell, while the patch of sunlight at the summit matches his T-shirt. With the man's guidance, the inscrutable patterns of the birds make sense to the boy. Just as readers learn most effectively from Myers's nonverbal cues here, the boy, too, learns to bond with the man in white, and with his birds, through observation rather than words. All ages. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
A lonely young boy, not allowed to go out into the streets, gazes from his apartment window high up under the roof at the pigeons flying overhead. When he yells impatiently at them, an old man scolds him from the roof. Jawanza joins him and the pigeons. The old man introduces him to the pigeons and to the magic of communicating with them. Jawanza exults in the pleasure of his new friends, hoping that with patience he will learn to "talk" and "dance" with them like the old man. The uplifting story is simply told with some African-American dialog. The visual narrative is equally direct┬ża sequence of half-page painted scenes of the boy's observation of and then interaction with the birds and the old man. Colors, intense reds and greens, and dance-like movements are chosen to emphasize the emotions involved in the spiritual connections of the characters in this urban rooftop drama. Don't miss the dramatic differences in the jacket, cover and title page. 2001, Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, $15.99. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz AGES: 6 7 8 9
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-The intriguing title page of this stunning picture book pulls readers into the story of a lonely boy who views the world from his top-floor city apartment. From the window, he watches and hollers at the pigeons, "a twisting river of birds flying patterns above my house." His observations puzzle him: why are they flying "all crazy bunched together-making pigeon clouds?" It takes Mr. Roderick Jackson Montgomery the Three, who spends his time on the apartment house roof talking to, naming, and dancing with the birds, to help Jawanza understand them and to begin replacing his isolation with friendship. At first impatient with "Young blood" for yelling at his "onliest friends," the old man quickly befriends the child, introducing him to the individuality of the pigeons and urging patience with the promise that he, too, will ultimately dance with them. Eloquently told, the seemingly simple story suggests hidden layers of meaning, and readers will wonder why its two characters are so alone. Myers's dramatic paintings paradoxically both underscore the mystery and downplay unsettling elements, focusing attention instead on the extraordinary visual experience. Vivid blues, purples, greens, yellows, and reds play against the stylized, elongated brown-skinned people and the gray-and-black birds to produce richness and depth. The art conveys action and feeling through body pose and facial expression, and the m lange of brilliant colors deepens the emotional response. The image of Jawanza climbing the red stairs to the roof and another of a black bird on a stark white background, flying above its shadow, are particularly arresting. A soaring accomplishment.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lonely boy discovers a world of friendship on his apartment building's roof. Jawanza is not allowed to play outside, so he spends his time looking out his window at the pigeons flying. He expresses his frustration by yelling at them, but an "old man with stick fingers" puts him in his place from the rooftop: "Can y'all believe that Mr. Joe-wanza, talking loud at you people because you're flying? What are y'all supposed to be doing-swimming?" Jawanza investigates the rooftop to find that Mr. Roderick Jackson Montgomery the Three and his pigeons have a whole world unto themselves under the sky-a world and language that "Mr. Three" teaches Jawanza to appreciate. Myers (Wings, 2000, etc.) once again explores the ideas of friendship and flight as liberating metaphor. The watercolor illustrations employ a warm palette of yellows and oranges, with bright blue skies; the figures of Jawanza and Mr. Roderick Jackson Montgomery the Three are elongated and bend into elegant curves that mimic the swoops of the pigeons' flight. Jawanza's sadness at the beginning is palpable, as is his emerging joy as he learns the "pigeon dance." The old man's distinctive voice is pure delight: "The problem with you now, Mr. Joe-wanza, is that you're too hurry-hurry to make the friends you're going to have. You got to take time with these new friends." The text as a whole, however, is overlong for a story with as little real action as this one; it bogs down from time to time in the details, and perhaps Mr. Roderick Jackson Montgomery the Three's delightful voice runs a little out of control. It is, nevertheless, a beautiful exploration of urban friendship in unexpected places. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786806522
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 11/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.87 (w) x 10.87 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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