"Flora and the Flamingo" - Molly Idle

posted Jul 26, 2016, 12:03 AM by Amie Ridley
"Mummy.  Read the Mango book.  Peas?"

This has been a common request in our house this month.  The Mango book being of course the 'flamingo' book, being "Flora and the Flamingo".  And it's not so much 'read' as sit with and look at.  Because "Flora and the Flamingo" has no words.

I am under no illusions as to why Miss 2 first picked up this book.  It is pink, and it has a flamingo on the cover.  Two very favourite things of hers right now.  I will point out though that we are talking about a lovely retro '1920's vibe' kind of pink and not a glittery, OTT,  'that's so pink it hurts' kind of pink.

So lovely retro look, beautiful illustrations, a firm favourite from the first read, and NO WORDS.

What this book does have is a multitude of emotions: curiosity, shyness, shame, kindness, sadness, joy, and a multitude of not so simple emotions.  Like 'I know you are there but I'm not sure how I feel about that yet' and 'do you really mean that because a moment ago you were laughing at me and I'm still not sure about you'.  You know, things that I can't quite find words for but am familiar with the feeling.  And the illustrations are expressive enough to show these emotions.

Also, the story is very strong.  For a book with no words, it has a very concrete plot.  It is a short moment in time, sure, but it is very cohesive and Miss 2 and Miss 6 are able to articulate what is happening, and how the characters are feeling.  They will sit and tell the story to themselves.  And this is important...

Being able to read emotions, and connect visual elements with a story line are all very important developmental processes for children.  It's not just about being able to follow a story book, it's about being able to make sense of their world.  Stories are a big part of how we learn about the world and ourselves, and how we place ourselves within our families, our history, our culture.  It doesn't matter whether these are legends, true history, or fables.  The history of the world is peppered with stories - people are a story culture, all of us.  What matters is that these stories tell us something, and teach us how to live with ourselves and with others.  And a big part of that is being able to understand emotions.

So a lot of importance then, in a beautiful book, with a pink cover, a flamingo, and a small girl in a floral bathing cap.  I'm glad though that we can just enjoy it for the time together and the beautiful story.  Because like so many things in life, the important things learning happens in the beautifully simple.