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When I Can Fly

Written & illustrated by Katie Stewart
Reviewed by Sandy Driessens
Little Boobook is determined to go to the city, ‘when he can fly’. From his home, the city lights are so pretty and the noises sound exciting. Though his mother shows him the beauty of his home, Little Boobook, is unwavering and practices flapping his wings until finally, he can fly. Off he goes on his adventure in the city.
The lights were bright … perhaps too bright. The noises were loud … perhaps too loud. There were creatures in the city that he had not expected. He yearned for the quiet of his home. So, with that same determination, he turned around and set off for home … where his mother was waiting.
Katie Stewart has created a most beautifully crafted book. The text is delightful. You can hear the tenacity in Little Boobooks voice and the warmth and caring in his mother’s. You are lured into the story in the same way Little Boobook was enticed into the city. Stewart’s illustrations express her obvious passion for Australian wildlife, in her detailed images of the two charming main characters and the small creatures around them. The double paged spreads capture nighttime in the forest with muted colours and twinkling stars, contrasting with the harsh city light and bold colours used for the onomatopoeia describing the sounds of the city. The exquisitely detailed feathers, gum leaves and gumnuts painted on the endpapers complement the quality of this book’s production.
I loved this book. Not only is the illustration immensely appealing, the theme is thoughtful. This is a story of the effort made to follow a dream. Little Boobook’s mother doesn’t attempt to prevent him going but wishes him well on his journey and lets him know she will be home if he returns. It’s not only children who are drawn to the novel and exciting and it often takes experience to find what truly makes us happy, so I recommend that this book be shared by all age groups in both home and school.
Stewart’s business Magic Owl Design makes covers for self-published books and the cover of  When I Can Fly has certainly enticed me to read her other books; Wombat Can’t Sing, Where do the Stars Go? and What Colour is the Sea? Her books have been shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year (2020 and 2021) and shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards (2022).
 Freemantle Press 2023   
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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