Hugo is a diehard Parisian boulevardier—which is a little incongruous, because he’s also a bird: “Hugo was content living on the ground.” But when Hugo meets a soigné bird named Lulu, he realizes that his diversion tactics can’t make up for the fact that he’s actually afraid to fly. Will Lulu say “au revoir”? Dominguez (Ava Tree and the Wishes Three), in her first outing as both author and illustrator, lets this tale about facing one’s fears unfold through wordy, literal insights (“I was afraid of the dark,” a helpful owl tells Hugo, “but then I realized all the wonderful things I was missing”), rather than the bubbliness or bon mots one might expect, given the flying theme and Parisian setting. But the story is buoyed by her gifts as an artist. Dominguez’s characters, constructed from substantial geometric shapes, have a wholly original look, and her scenes of Paris’s grand outdoor spaces exude a feel of en plein air, with thick black outlines, tissue-paper textures, and liberal white space lending a dash of French hauteur. Ages 3–5. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Mar.)
"What sets this story apart...is Dominguez's delightful ink and tissue paper collages....A charming little ode to overcoming fear."
"An excellent book for helping children understand that being fearful is natural, but that overcoming fears can lead to exciting new adventures and experiences."
"Tone and artwork mix beautifully in this endearing tale...The book charms from the start, but Dominguez excels with her slow revelation of Hugo's qualms....A story that could have been pinned to the ground by didacticism instead soars." — Kirkus
"What sets this story apart...is Dominguez's delightful ink and tissue paper collages....A charming little ode to overcoming fear." — Booklist
"An uplifting story about conquering fears and making friends....Pair this with Rob Scotton's Splish, Splash, Splat!...or Melanie Watt's Scaredy Squirrel." — School Library Journal
"An excellent book for helping children understand that being fearful is natural, but that overcoming fears can lead to exciting new adventures and experiences." — LMC
Hugo is a small orange bird who is happy living on the ground in a Parisian park. One day, while he is building a model of the Eiffel Tower, a little pink bird with a hair ribbon flies down and tells him they can fly to the tower. Lulu says she will take him there, but Hugo wants to show her the park first. Then he keeps putting the flight off, as they play. When it is nighttime, Hugo suggests that they fly in the morning. Hugo then tells old owl Bernard that he is afraid to fly. Bernard offers to help him practice through the night. The next morning, up in a tree, Hugo admits to Lulu that he is a little scared. But she encourages him to explore the sky. And off they fly together to the beautiful Eiffel Tower. "The sky's the limit" now for a happy Hugo. He is an odd-looking bird with a bulbous body, long muffler, and toothpick legs. On the front end-pages he is engaged in a dozen ordinary activities on the ground. The park, people, and animals are created "with love with Canson paper, ink, tissue paper...." The tissue paper is used like transparent watercolors to create the shapes; inked lines are brushed on for details. Hugo is always the center of interest. When he hooks up with Lulu, there are pictures of the pair at play, along with a dozen happy games for two on the back end-pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
PreS-Gr 1—An uplifting story about conquering fears and making friends. Hugo, the scarf-sporting avian protagonist, prefers walking to flying. He enjoys his ground-based Parisian life, making art instead of nests. While building a model of the Eiffel Tower, he meets Lulu, who invites him to the real landmark. He distracts her with land-bound activities until nighttime falls and she leaves. Saddened by her departure, Hugo admits his fear of flying to Bernard the owl. The old bird wisely remarks that "everyone is afraid of something," and teaches Hugo to fly. With more practice and encouragement, he conquers his fears and befriends Lulu. Mixed-media illustrations delight with rich colors, subtly textured paper backgrounds, and varied perspectives. Drawn with almost stick-figurelike simplicity, the birds charm with their vivacious expressiveness. Playful endpapers feature Hugo engaged in his creative pursuits in the front papers and playing with Lulu in the back pages. Pair this with Rob Scotton's Splish, Splash, Splat! (HarperCollins, 2011) or Melanie Watt's Scaredy Squirrel (Kids Can, 2006) for additional inspiration for anxious youngsters.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
Tone and artwork mix beautifully in this endearing tale about overcoming a debilitating fear. Sporting a jaunty scarf, a little yellow bird named Hugo lives on the grounds of a park in Paris. One day, Lulu, a fellow bird, notices him building a sculpture of the Eiffel Tower and offers to take him there. Hugo is able to delay her without confessing his fear of flight, suggesting a tour, a snack and other activities. It is only when he realizes that his fear may limit not just his dreams, but also his friendships that he swallows his pride and asks for help. The front endpapers depicting Hugo's solo amusements are neatly complemented by the back endpapers, which feature Hugo and Lulu together. The book charms from the start, but Dominguez excels with her slow revelation of Hugo's qualms. When readers first meet Hugo, his on-the-ground life appears to be one of choice, not one forced by fear, so this neatly introduces children to the truth that people find ways to hide their fears out of shame. The tissue-and-ink artwork presents surprising textures and rich colors, certain to make a Parisian out of any willing reader. A story that could have been pinned to the ground by didacticism instead soars.
(Picture book. 4-8)