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Fantasy takes flight in ‘Books do not Have Wings’

Mom says to be nice to your books.

Never rip them or color in them, and turn the pages carefully. Put them away on shelves, closed and upright. And no matter what, don’t throw them because, as you’ll see in the new book by Brynne Barnes, illustrated by Rogério Coelho, “Books Do Not Have Wings.”

What is a book?

Well, you know it’s made of paper and that it’s squarish and sometimes skinny. It has “pages and pictures, a cover, it’s true…” But did you know that a book can become anything you want it to be?

Books don’t have wings, but they can take you on magical journeys, over strange places and above the clouds. There are no engines inside a book, nothing that ticks or chimes, but it might still contain wheels or gears or springs.

There are not wings on a book, but you might think it’s a puzzle. In your mind, you can take it apart and make some sense of it, or it might start out somewhere and end in a totally different place. Isn’t that “more than a book”?

A book doesn’t have wings, but it can show you anything. You might see pirates or ships on the water or in space. There could be balloons, ghosts or marine creatures. A book might take you to a witch’s house or maybe to the home of a princess or a dragon. You could dance with fairies, paint butterflies, sing with the trees, or you might find wishes. You might see things you’d never see anywhere but inside a book.

Old books do not have wings and neither do new ones but all books are different to each kid that reads them. Words are just words, unless a kid needs them, especially when a book is folded “flat, alone on the shelf.” And in that case, books don’t need wings. They’re just wonderful all by themselves.

You know how books can take you to a different place and time. You know how you can escape into a great novel, or bite satisfactorily into a slice of history or science. To show your child the same, you can both read “Books Do Not Have Wings.”

Using words that dip and soar like a joyful bird on a sunny day, Barnes takes children inside paper and over lands that are magical. Nothing is off-limits in this book, which is just as it should be for very young readers: the story, told roughly in poem-form, moves dream-like through an enchanted journey to imaginary places. Barnes and Coelho open a world filled with fanciful creatures in these pages, too, before safely tucking your kids back on a shelf with their book, ready for more adventures.

The rhyme is irresistible, evocative of a hip-hop tune. The illustrations will give your child hours of spot-the-details fun. Who could resist? Not your 5- to 8-year-old, especially if she’s born into a book-loving family. If that’s the case, “Books Do Not Have Wings” is a nice little gift.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.

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