Just in Case You Want to Fly is an altogether beautiful picturebook which celebrates the joys of childhood – a childhood blessed with roots and wings – and seeks to reassure children that they are safe and cared for while encouraging them to make their way out into the world.
Children play and dream their way through the pages, being gifted everything they might need by a loved one (‘here’s a cherry if you need a snack/ and if you get itchy, here’s a scratch on the back’). Told with lyrical text and gorgeous, bold illustrations, the book sings both freedom and safety. It is a wonderful exploration of what it is to be a child given wings to fly with as well as a nest to return to.
Robinson’s striking illustrations, which are a mix of abstract and literal, demand close examination and re-examination – the shapes, colours, composition – and the text and pictures carefully deepen each other’s meaning. Simple text and repetitive phrases lend themselves to being read aloud while the light rhythm and flow of the text evoke the children’s exploration of and delight in the world. Importantly, the people (mostly children) illustrated in the book reflect a broad range of realities. I also really like the way it encourages you not to take things too seriously and to notice (and enjoy) the little things in life while still honouring the enormity of learning to grow wings.
Just in Case You Want to Fly is a book that you’ll find yourself turning to, again and again, enjoying all its little details and its beautiful warmth. While ideally suited to the younger years, I’d argue it has a place in any classroom, especially in times of new challenges or change. Who doesn’t want to be inspired by a message of having all you need while you go out and learn to fly?
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