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The Wing on a Flea (original): 09/16/12

cover art

In April 2010, I reviewed the reissued version of The Wing on a Flea by Ed Emberley. That's the 1988 reissue with completely new illustrations and edited text. While interning at Holy Names I came across the 1961 version, a book that is more in keeping with how I remember Emberley's books being.

The Wing on a Flea (original) introduces children to basic shapes: triangles, circles, squares and rectangles. Except for the red cover, the only colors inside are white, black, blue and green. Mostly it's black line drawings on white paper with a few highlighted shapes or areas done in either blue or green.

For me, Ed Emberley means how to draw books, all of which use basic shapes to build complex shapes. The Wing on a Flea does the same thing by showing many different things that use triangles, circles, squares and rectangles. Each shape has a dozen or so examples, all woven together artistically and poetically.

The 1961 version is by far the superior of the two versions. It's beautiful to look at and delightful to read. The examples are interesting with just enough complexity to inspire young readers to draw their own illustrations of triangles, circles, squares and rectangles.

Five stars

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