Picture Books

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Gregorowski, Christopher

Fly, Eagle, Fly!


Illustrated by Niki Daly. Cape Town, South Africa: Tafelberg, 2000. No pag. ISBN 0-624-03903-X. Ages 6-10.


Languages: English, Afrikaans


Publisher: Tafelberg


Summary
This story is based on an African tale often told by Dr. Aggrey, a West African missionary. A farmer finds an eagle chick and puts it in the coop with his chickens, where it learns to live like a chicken and, as the farmer insists, it even “thinks like a chicken.” A friend tries three times to persuade the young eagle to fly: “You belong not to the earth but to the sky” (no pag.). But his first two attempts to launch the bird into flight do not succeed. Eventually, he takes the eagle (and the protesting farmer) up a mountain. There, “feeling the updraught of a wind more powerful than any man or bird,” the eagle sweeps up into the sky, “never again to live among the chickens” (no pag.).

Commentary
Fly, Eagle, Fly! was widely acclaimed when it was first published in 1982. Financial constraints at that time allowed illustrator Niki Daly to use only two colours, but even so his black-and-yellow ochre pictures were stunning. Republished in 2000, he created new full-colour artwork with larger pages, and the result is one of the classics of South African children’s literature. With a powerful message of rising above one’s imposed earthly restrictions, the pictures are equally inspiring with their authentic portrayal of the South African landscape. The characters are richly alive, and colourful printed cloths brighten the village street where chickens scratch in the sun. The muted colours of the mountain are contrasted against the glowing sky at dawn. Fly, Eagle, Fly! was awarded the SACBF Vivian Wilkes Award for 2000 and was nominated as a South African IBBY Honour Book for illustration. The book includes a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


 

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