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If I Never Forever Endeavor
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If I Never Forever Endeavor

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by Holly Meade
A fledgling teeters at the edge of his nest in a gorgeously illustrated tale sure to resonate with anyone facing a rite of passage, change, or challenge.

Safe inside his cozy nest, a young bird considers whether or not to give his new wings a try. What if he tries and the wings don’t work, and he flails, plummets, and looks foolish? Then again, what if


A fledgling teeters at the edge of his nest in a gorgeously illustrated tale sure to resonate with anyone facing a rite of passage, change, or challenge.

Safe inside his cozy nest, a young bird considers whether or not to give his new wings a try. What if he tries and the wings don’t work, and he flails, plummets, and looks foolish? Then again, what if his wings take him swooping and gliding, sailing and flying through a great big wonderful world? He’ll never know if he never endeavors. With the help of her bold, beautiful collage artwork, Caldecott Honor-winning artist Holly Meade offers a gentle nudge for hesitant fledglings of all ages and species to step out, to dare, to try . . . and to fly.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Playful verse and thoughtfully developed artwork distinguish Meade's (In the Wild) meditation on the anxiety of attempting something new. "If in all of forever,/ I never endeavor/ to fly, I won't know if I can," says a yellow bird, peeping out of its nest. Nest and pine branch are densely textured block-print cutouts set against blue washed skies; the dusky yellow nestling's feathers are shaded with a brush dipped in green. After some waffling ("On the one wing,/ I could try/ and find/ that I flap/ and I fail"), the bird realizes that not flying will bring regret ("I won't know how it feels to/ scallop the air/ with a dip/ and a glide") and takes the plunge. The navigation of this perennial dilemma is animated both by Meade's visual intelligence (white space between brushstrokes represents air currents disturbed as birds wing by, giving a remarkable sense of what flight must feel like) and her poetic integrity ("If I hadn't endeavored/ and found my wings clever,/ I never a sky/ would have scaled,/ never a world/ would have seen"). A quiet but noteworthy achievement, and a possible sleeper hit for graduation season. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"The fledgling perched on the edge of her nest preparing for possible flight is a situation I can feel in the pit of my stomach: possible glory, possible failure. We all find ourselves there, and we make a decision. This story is about that choice, the internal debate that accompanies it, and one possible result."
- Holly Meade — Quote
Children's Literature - Kailey Zeigler
As a little bird wanders about the world, he is scared to spread his wings and wonders if he can actually fly. Finally he tries and decides he made a great choice as he has the chance to see the world and gain the experience of meeting a new friend. The story allows readers to think about the little bird’s courage and how most experiences turn out not to be as hard as we first thought. The simple watercolor paintings cover the whole page with sky scenery and encourage readers to focus on the little bird and what he is going through. Meade includes a lot of rhyming words that help readers to connect with the story. Her use of the word “endeavor” and other sophisticated language creates a constant poetic flow to her writing. Recommended to encourage youngsters to use their wings to fly. Reviewer: Kailey Zeigler; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Meade's poetic message, delivered by a baby bird in its nest, is that you cannot succeed if you don't try. ("If in all of forever,/I never endeavor/to fly, I won't know if I can.") For a nestling, attempting to fly can be dangerous, but can also lead to finding friends, catching a meal, and seeing the world. While the message is a fine one to pass along to young children, in this instance it seems clearly intended for other young birds. The forced poetic text includes some sophisticated words and flipped phrases that hold little meaning for most preschoolers ("If I did endeavor, and found my wings clever,/I could see the world!"), yet the message itself is too simplistic for older children. The handsome artwork is clearly the focus here. Nearly all of Meade's eye-catching, stylized illustrations feature striking, patterned linoleum block prints in shades of green and brown on cutouts of tree trunks, branches, foliage, and a nest containing the yellow bird in whose voice the narrative is written. All of them are set against spreads of watercolor sky in several shades of blue and white.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
To fly or not to fly is the question for a little bird weighing the pros and cons of launching into the unknown. Perched in his comfy nest, the fledgling nervously wonders if he can fly. "On the one wing," he muses, he might "flail, / flounder and / plummet, / look foolish / and fail." But "on the other wing," he might "rise high and / float free." If he endeavors, he could "sail through the trees" and "see the world"—or get very lost. As he watches other birds flying, the fledgling tentatively gives his wings a "little flap" and, before he knows it, he's flying! Meade effectively uses rhyme ("forever," "endeavor," "whether," "clever"), onomatopoeia ("flutter," "thwack," "thud," "thump," "flap") and repetition to accentuate the fledgling's inner conflict, while words like "swoop," "soar," "glide" and "dare" reinforce his eventual triumph. Stunning collages of textured linoleum block prints and watercolors span double-page spreads to showcase the wee yellow bird warily peeking out of his nest on a pine bough as he debates and imagines himself soaring as well as plummeting. Loosely applied brush strokes evoke the swooping and gliding of birds and, in one humorous sequence, the fledgling literally flutters and flaps across the page. An irresistible invitation to test those wings and fly.(Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Holly Meade (1956-2013) wrote and illustrated IF I NEVER FOREVER ENDEAVOR. She earned a Caldecott Honor for her illustrations in HUSH! A THAI LULLABY by Minfong Ho. She also illustrated AND THEN COMES HALLOWEEN by Tom Brenner; ON THE FARM, IN THE WILD, and IN THE SEA by David Elliott; and many others.

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If I Never Forever Endeavor 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written and delightfully illustrated book. It is a book that young children will enjoy and has a message for all ages, especially children who may hesitate to try something new. I loved this book!!!