Written by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Mary Blair
Random House, 1951
A bird can fly. So can I.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl imagines herself as lots of different things.
The narrator of the story is a spunky little girl with pigtails who moos like a cow, plays like a puppy, and swims like a fish. She pretends to be a chick in the farmyard and hides like a mouse under the kitchen table. She buries herself in the sand like a clam and piles pillows on her back to become a camel. She walks softly like a cat and hoots loudly like an owl. She proudly declares that playing make believe is her way.
Let’s see…an author I adore paired with an artist I adore and even more, it’s a Little Golden Book, which is a powerhouse of nostalgia. There’s no way this book could miss with me. The wonderful Ruth Krauss is, once again, showing her customary prowess with words, creating whimsical imagery that trips happily off the tongue but leaves a lasting impression on the mind and heart. The message here is all about play and make believe and connecting with everything and everyone around you. It made me reminisce about my own childhood, which I’m proud to say was filled with flights of fancy.
Illustrator Mary Blair has been a favorite of mine through her work with Walt Disney, where her distinctive style influenced movies and theme park attractions. She’s known for her masterful use of color and this book shows that off beautifully. My review copy is the newer edition, which (sadly) is missing several pages from the initial publication, in which we get to see our heroine be a crab, a bear, a goat, a rabbit and a worm. (I’ll hopefully get my hands on a copy of the original soon.) The book’s final page is sheet music for a song called ‘I Can Fly’ with a similar theme. I love this one.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that, with a good imagination, anything you dream of is possible.