Winging it! by Rod Kelly and Emma Latham

Winging it

An entertaining and educational picture book with lovely expressive illustrations in strong vibrant colours.

Paul the penguin craves excitement. He longs to travel – to see new sights, to push boundaries and to explore. He wishes he could fly, far, far away. When a group of scientists visit the colony, Paul has an idea. These humans aren’t any good at anything (they don’t have wings, they can’t swim well, and they can’t even breathe underwater) but they still get to explore. Paul decides to stow away on their boat and see the world. When he reaches Australia, he resolves to get his pilot’s license so he can fly other flightless birds to the destinations they’ve always wanted to visit. There’s just one problem – the birds soon find they don’t like their new environments and realise they were happier at home. Luckily, Paul finds a different way to fulfil his sense of adventure.

The story in Winging it! is considerably longer than most modern picture books and there are a number of words that children will need an adult to explain. Fortunately, this really doesn’t matter as this is a book that many adults will be happy to read and re-read. While children will take the story at face value there’s lots of adult humour to entertain those reading the book with them. I particularly giggled at Paul’s observation that humans aren’t any good at anything, the passing reference to Paul’s job advertising chocolate biscuits, and the explanation of how word spreads about Paul’s new airline (the birds keep ‘tweeting’ about it).

It’s likely that the book will also appeal to readers beyond the traditional picture book market (perhaps children aged between about 5 and 7), especially those who like stories that introduce factual information. There’s lots to learn from this story from the names of the different types of flightless birds and where they come from to the phenomenon of the Southern Lights.

This is all accompanied by lovely expressive pictures in strong vibrant colours. There’s plenty of detail too, making this a book that you can happily revisit again and again. I especially liked the spectacular illustrations of the Southern Lights and the scenes in the aeroplanes.

Most pertinent of all, however, is the picture on the back cover of a stork carrying a bundle. Young readers may not realise the significance of this reference (as the myth of where baby’s come from seems less common these days) but this seems a particularly fitting image given all proceeds from this book are going to the Simpsons Special Babies charity, the official charity supporting the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Hospital in Edinburgh.

This is a lovely book for a truly worthwhile cause and I personally can’t think of a better way of spending £10. Why not get your copy now?

Alternatively, if you want to learn more about the charity or make a donation, you can check out their website: www.sscb.org

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