The Flamingo

Few books deserve the "perfect" designation, but The Flamingo by Guojing arguably earns that appellation. The celebrated author of The Only Child and Stormy presents another remarkable, near-wordless story that gloriously commemorates bonds between humans and animals.

A girl in a red hat arrives at a sepia-toned airport and is claimed by her grandmother, dressed in matching red. At her Lao Lao's home, the girl is fascinated by a feather with a reddish tip. Lao Lao's story about a childhood bike ride with her pup turns the pages vivid as she finds a lone egg washed up on shore. During granddaughter and Lao Lao's idyllic visit, Lao Lao reveals how the egg hatches into a fluffy flamingo friend... who eventually must fly away. Part two echoes that bittersweet parting even though Lao Lao entrusts the precious feather to her granddaughter. Back at home, the girl devises a creative way to summon the cherished flamingo and reconnect with her grandmother.

Guojing, who was born in China and lives in Canada, is familiar with the joys of multi-generational homecoming and the challenges of eventual parting. Her touching dedication encapsulates her own experience: to her mother "who said I'm her flamingo," to her son "who arrived when I completed this book" and to her "grandma in heaven, who gave me the happiest childhood." Guojing exquisitely adapts the cycle of belonging-parting-reuniting by highlighting the bendable but unbreakable attachments between devoted beings, human and not. Exceptionally noteworthy are her characters' expressions, especially those of delight, discovery and love. Every page of Guojing's art is a splendid visual feast, ensuring readers a soaring, spectacular flight of fancy and imagination. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

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