David Almond, author of the Carnegie medal winner "Skellig", is back with this delightful new story aimed at young children and beautifully illustrated by Polly Dunbar. Almond shows once again his love for birds with this surreal tale of a dad who's determined to learn how to fly in order to win the Great Human Bird Competition! Everyone thinks he's crazy, including his little and wise daughter Lizzie. But is he really? Probably. But he's also full of hope and dreams. He believes that faith and courage will be enough to make his body leave the ground and reach for the sky. So much that he manages to involve Lizzie in his funny and absurd plan. For an adult reader Lizzie's dad will maybe appear at the beginning as the worst example of fatherhood. He is so obsessed with his idea that he doesn't even dress in the morning. He hangs around in his dressing gown waiting for Lizzie to make breakfast and go to school. Then spends all his time practising and sewing his feathery wings. He even eats worms and flies just like a bird. What kind of dad is that? That's exactly what Auntie Doreen says when she visits her poor niece. Sensible and practical Auntie Doreen who knows what really matters for a young girl: sums and spelling, and dumplings. But is it really?
I love this book. It uses light and humourous tones to deliver a great message for children (and grown ups who forgot how it's like to be children). That the best time you can have is the time you spend fulfilling your dreams, together with the people you love. Lizzie's dad has his mind elsewhere, but as soon as he shares his project with his daughter, she embraces as her own, no matter what the outcome will be. Together they have a great time creating the most beautiful wings ever seen, and soon enough they become "The Crows", ready to jump and take off.
"Nothing fancy for the crows. No machines or engines, or slings or elastic bands. Wings and faith and...dare I say it?...love!"
I hope parents will read this together with their children, and that they will let themselves go crazy sometimes, just for the fun of it!