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The Year We Learned to Fly: 01/06/21
The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López (Illustrator) is the tale of siblings who learn to harness their imaginations. They are guided by their patient grandmother and are able to rise above the negativity they receive when their family moves from the city to the suburbs.
In modern lingo the book is about mindfulness. It's about being centered and confident in oneself in trying times. For the children it's learning how to play by themselves on a day when they can't go outside; how to understand another's frustration and to not be drawn to anger; how to be yourself when others say you don't fit in.
Per the afterword, this book was inspired by The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton with illustrations by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon (1985). The connection between the two books is evident first in the grandmother's guidance for the siblings; Woodson's books are often focused on generational storytelling. But Rafael López's colorful illustrations are a modern homage to the Dillons.
Rafael López works in mixed media. The illustrations are described as a combination of acrylic paint on wood, pen and ink, and watercolors that are then brought together in Photoshop. That said, they are a coherent, consistent, beautiful window in the world of these siblings through their year of learning to fly.