Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Feiwel & Friends, 2009. Review copy supplied by publisher. Picture book.
The Plot: A young witch desperately wants to fly.
The Good: This story of learning to fly is written as a sestina. The repartition both lulls the reader and reassures the reader, while cheering on the young witch in her goal: flight. This also makes it a great read aloud; there is something about poetry that just works better when read.
On the surface, this is a story of try, try again, similar to stories of learning how to ride a bike or swim. But, this is flight. Something so much more than just riding or swimming; flying is about growing up and leaving childhood behind, it's about not accepting limitations, and it's about freedom.
Here is the young witch, finally flying, and its words that could cheer and encourage anyone: "Hold tight to your broom
and float past the stars,
and turn to the heavens and soar.
For only a witch can fly past the moon.
Only a witch can fly."
And I read those final words and thought, "and we are all witches."
Let me tell you, that photo of the cover doesn't give the actual cover justice. The moon is a soft, light butter yellow that matches the font of the title and it just makes you go "oooohhhh... I must pick this up. I must touch this cover." The colors throughout the book are warm: black, brown, orange, green. Yoo shares details about her art at an interview with Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. And the young witch has striped stockings. I so, so want those types of stockings but alas, at my age cannot carry off that look.
The Poetry Friday round-up is at Becky's Book Reviews.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy