Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Flora and the Flamingo is the latest picture book by Molly Idle, who spent the first five years after earning her BFA working for DreamWorks Animation Studios. Flora and the Flamingo is utterly charming, absolutely lovely and magnificently memorable. Give this book to a child (which I recommend you do as soon as possible) and I guarantee you it will be in her possession twenty years from now and, if she happens to lose track of Flora and the Flamingo while she is in college, I have no doubt she will scour the shelves of a bookstore, probably with her boyfriend, looking for "that cool flamingo" book from her childhood. As a bookseller, I witnessed this phenomena all the time - two young adults would wander into the kid's section then spend the next hour perusing the books, looking for old favorites and reading out loud to each other. Not all picture books achieve this kind of immortality and it's hard to predict which ones will survive the decades, but I'm betting Flora and the Flamingo will be around for a while.

Knowing that Idle worked as an animator makes sense after reading Flora and the Flamingo, which is a very visual wordless story that dynamic and lyrical in its illustrations. In addition to this, Flora and the Flamingo is the RARE picture book that makes use of the color pink (in a big way) without being the least bit girlie or princess-y. Idle has separated the color from the symbols that often crowd it out, reminding me what a beautiful hue pink really is. In Flora and the Flamingo, pink is serene. Pink is elegant. Pink is sublime.

Flora and the Flamingo tells the story of two dancers - or are they just a bird and a swimmer? A flamingo gracefully alights on the title page. On the next page, as the flamingo stands elegantly on one leg, a big black flipper emerges from the edge of the facing page. From that moment on, the adorable Flora in her swimming cap does her best to follow the delicate movements of the bird but it's not always as easy as it looks.

But, Flora and the Flamingo is a story of friendship and, while the flamingo seems to be frustrated with Flora from time to time, ultimately the two find friendship in their shared passion. By the end of the book, Flora is leaping as neatly and nimbly as the flamingo. The final four page spread shows the two joyously making a big splash, ending with a bow.

But, among many wonderful things about Flora and the Flamingo, the best surprise are the flaps that reveal more moves from the dancers, giving the book and extra dose of special. For the best experience of this, be sure to watch the brief video below!

As I read Flora and the Flamingo, I couldn't help but think of the flamingos from Disney's Fantasia 2000.

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