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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
Having the courage to leave the nest – quite literally – is at the heart of this charming chapter book for young readers, written by Nicola Ridgeway and James Manning, and artfully illustrated by Irena Urosevic. Peter is a three-month-old young eagle – a gangly teenager, in bird years – and he’s afraid of flying in case he falls. In fact, he’s so afraid of falling that he wears a parachute at all times. His mother tries talking some sense into him, telling him that he’s a bird of prey and that he’s supposed to fly and catch his own food, but to no avail. Peter refuses to take the plunge. He’s visited by his Uncle Apollo who boasts about exploring the world and being able to fly higher than woodpeckers, gulls, condors, and even higher than the clouds. Peter is also visited by his mom’s old friend, Ace, who advises him to trust his survival instinct. Cousin Venus visits next, who confesses to being nervous about all kinds of things and having the courage to overcome his nerves. While Peter appreciates everything they’ve told him, he still is too afraid to fly – until a strong gust of wind sends Peter toppling from his nest a short while later…
The young protagonist, Peter, faces a challenge typical of most children – being afraid to do something for the first time. Peter and the Parachute teaches children that such fears and anxieties are normal and that you need to try things to find out if you can do them. It also teaches children to trust their instincts. Peter recognizes the perils of flying but he also understands his need to overcome his fear. The authors use simple words befitting the reading level of their targeted audience, yet the story draws you in, thanks to Peter’s innate vulnerability, beautifully conveyed through both the narrative and the thoughtful illustrations. Urosevic’s detailed illustrations capture the essence of the story perfectly. The backgrounds are colorful and vibrant but it’s the character of Peter and his family and friends that truly give the story life through expressive facial gestures and body posturing. Peter and the Parachute is a wonderful story that teaches an important life lesson for children – and even a few adults!