Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fear of Flying, Doggy Style


Sid is a dog, yet not unlike a lot of kids (and grownups for that matter). One minute he finds himself inexplicably, deliciously, flying high. He's literally on top of the world! But when he tries to share this incredible experience with others, they quickly bring him back down to earth, and the landing is not gentle.


The confusion and sadness of having a spirit that soars and then being confined by the small imaginations of those of  little faith is beautifully explored through British children's author Jez Alborough's lofty and lush illustrations and simple, rhyming verse that begs the question: even if logic instructs you to believe otherwise, is it wrong to let yourself go where your spirit moves you? Should you defy the confines of conventional wisdom, moral judgement, tradition, or other limitations? 


When I first read through this story, I felt like I myself was flying, because Alborough so aptly described what it feels like to be a little bit different, and to feel a bit cursed by that fact. I love reading the story aloud, not only to children, but to the grownups who accompany them to story time, and to watch their faces react to the premise and the question contained: do dogs fly? why? and more importantly, why not?

Alborough describes his inspiration as a children's writer on his website, http://www.JezAlborough.com: "In children’s books I have been inspired by Dr Suess (although I never saw his books as a child). I think the Grinch Who Stole Christmas is probably my favourite. Dr Suess took this art form to a whole new place, he is to picture books what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar."