When You Need Wings – Lita Judge

  When You Need Wings – Lita Judge.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. 9781534437555

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? A little girl is escorted to preschool by her father, and is at first overwhelmed by the bustle of other children in the schoolyard.  Despite a hug from Dad, she is still afraid and unsure, so she closes her eyes to find calm and a way to escape.  The text suggests that using the imagination is like having secret wings, with which one can fly away to ‘find treasures that live inside your mind.’  The little girl in the story finds treasures like dancing animals and ‘bravehearted friends’ and soon gains the courage to join in the playground fun.

This is a reassuring reminder that it’s okay to be nervous, and a bit hesitant, when faced with a new situation, and finding strength within by thinking happy thoughts is a helpful strategy.  Full-bleed watercolor illustrations portray the diverse students on the playground and the animals in the imaginary forest with equal energy.  Each of the children wears something that connects them to one of the animals – a tiger backpack, a fox hat, etc. – which is a pretty neat device, as are the white doves which represent the girl’s wings as her imagination soars.  Fall leaves and flying geese imply that this is the first day of school, and it would make a thoughtful gift for a new preschooler.

Anything you didn’t like about it? no

To whom would you recommend this book?  Preschool teachers can read this aloud at the start of a new school session, or as encouragement for quieter students.  Limited text makes it accessible to lower-grade readers, but it would probably be better shared with a grown-up who can help with comprehension.  A nice addition to a library collection where other books by Lita Judge are popular.

Who should buy this book? Preschools, public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Leigh King, School Librarian, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northborough, Massachusetts

Date of review:  6/16/2020

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