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Wings Hardcover – October 1, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ikarus Jackson, a new boy on the block, surprises his neighbors one day by flying above the rooftops with his "long, strong, proud wings." People start to whisper, though, and soon those whispers turn to taunts, disdain, and finally even dismissal from school. One quiet girl, someone who knows loneliness herself, doesn't think the winged boy is strange. She runs through the streets, searching the clouds for her exiled schoolmate, only to find a policeman yelling at him to get down from the edge of a building where he perched with the pigeons: "Could the policeman / put him in jail for flying, / for being too different?" She musters her strength to tell the laughing onlookers to leave him alone, and she tells her new friend "what someone should have long ago"--that his flying is beautiful.

Christopher Myers, who illustrated the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Black Cat and the Caldecott Honor Book Harlem shines in this simple, lovely tribute to individualism, encouraging his young readers to dare to fly too close to the sun despite the warnings of the mythological Icarus. "Ikarus Jackson can fly through the air; I want kids to find their own set of wings and soar with him," says Myers. His masterful cut-paper collages capture the odd, crazy beauty of Ikarus's big white wings and the dizzying perspectives of a boy who is flying over rooftops. Urban landscapes are represented by cut photos of fencing, brownstones, and photo-booth portraits, while the sky in one spread is a sea of fuschia roses. Wings is a wonderfully expressive pairing of story and illustration. (Ages 6 and older) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

Once again demonstrating a masterful use of collage, Myers (Black Cat) imaginatively refutes the myth of Icarus and champions the nature of the artist. A watchful girl, ostracized by her peers for her quiet nature, narrates the story of her blossoming friendship with a new neighbor, Ikarus Jackson, whose "long, strong, proud wings followed wherever he went." Ikarus initially walks (and flies) with confidence in his red T-shirt and blue shorts, but slowly loses steam as first the students, then his teacher, and finally a policeman all criticize his unique appearance. Always depicted as a yellow silhouetted figure gracefully cut from a single piece of paper, the girl sympathizes with the hero and completes Ikarus's medley of red and blue. In this way, Myers ingeniously allows readers to identify with the narrator, admiring Ikarus's beauty of flight and individual expression. The artwork isolates and reworks elements of the myth: In the valley of Ikarus's dejection ("He struggled to stay in the air. His wings dropped and his head hung low"), the boy seems to be plummeting toward an expanse of water. In the climax, as the policeman yells at Ikarus and the neighbors "explode with laughter," Myers superimposes the boy's figure over a scene of a forest fire, and the narrator reaches out to Ikarus from across the gutter. She, too, seems to be aflame against a backdrop of swirling waterDand breaks her silence for the first time, " 'Stop!' I cried. 'Leave him alone.' " Myers indicates that one person appreciating another's true qualities makes life complete: the two friends seem to danceDhe in the air, she on the ground as their unique colors and shapes create a unified whole. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD400L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590033778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590033770
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7.8 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ikarus Jackson is new to the neighborhood. He has long beautiful white wings and can fly gracefully over rooftops, diving and swooping. All the children call him strange, gawk, taunt and laugh at him. Even adults stare and make unkind comments. Everyone but a shy girl. She knows how Ikarus feels. She's heard them whispering and making fun of how quiet she is. She thinks what Ikarus can do is wonderful and when a policeman orders him to stop flying and stay on the ground, she bravely tells all the others to stop laughing and pointing and leave him alone. Then she turns to Ikarus and "told him what someone should have long ago: Your flying is beautiful." And for the first time, he smiled. "Ikarus had found his wings again."..... In this simple retelling of the Icarus myth, Christopher Myers' modern day Ikarus Jackson doesn't fall from the sky because he dared to fly too close to the sun, but because the neighborhood couldn't tolerate his differences and broke his spirit. His beautifully gentle, poetic text, full of imagery and magic is only outdone by his amazing cut paper and photo collage illustrations and both children and adults alike will be mesmerized by the bold colors and intricate detail. Together, word and art combine to make a very expressive and thoughtful story about the triumph of the human spirit, celebrating our differences and embracing what makes each and every one of us unique and special. Perfect as a read aloud story for youngsters 4-8, Wings will have even more meaning for older children and should open interesting family discussions.
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Format: Hardcover
"Ikarus Jackson, the fly boy,
came to my school last Thursday.
His long, strong, proud wings followed
where he went."

But people don't get it. They snicker and sneer and drive Ikarus to the top of an apartment building to sit "with the pigeons." Because "pigeons don't make fun of people." In a sort of "emperor's new clothes" moment, a young girl calls out "what someone should have long ago: "Your flying is beautiful."" That seems to be what Ikarus needs to break free of his self-doubts and insecurities and soar.

Christopher Myers' collages have an Ezra Jack Keats meets Romare Bearden feel to them. Look closer and images appear within the images. I wondered about the significance of these secondary images, but not knowing made them all the more appealing.

Wings is a book to explore and enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
Christopher Myers tells a beautiful story about individuality, the devastating effects of bullying, and the importance of coming to accept and love the whole, you. The main character, Ikarus Jackson is the new kid in school and wants more than anything to fit in. To make matters worse for young Ikarus, all the other students make fun of his “long, strong, proud wings” that follow him wherever he goes. All the other students, but one that is--think he is strange, labeling him, “fly boy.” The narrator, a young girl, who has been the victim of the other children’s bullying before, is intrigued by Ikarus and quietly watches his struggle.
Teachers accuse Ikarus of being a “distraction”, boys snicker about his “useless” wings at recess, and children label him as a “show-off” when he excels at basketball. The narrator observes that their harsh words and actions “send Ikarus farther and farther away.” She reflects, as the reader will, upon her own experiences with those mean kids; wondering why she didn’t say anything, when she knew she should have stood up for Ikarus. She realizes what she must do, and runs and searches the skies for the amazing fly boy, only to find his head hung low, seeking the company of pigeons because “pigeons don’t make fun of people.” The turning point in the book occurs finally after a policeman yells at Ikarus to get down from the roof top and the children laugh at him. The young girl who has witnessed the cruelty of the children yells, “Stop! Leave him alone” And they did. Ikarus smiles at his new friend and is finally able to spread his wings and fly to new heights. The book ends on a very uplifting note as the young girl watches Ikarus fly above a symbolic bridge exclaiming, “Look at that amazing boy!
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Format: Hardcover
After a visit to the library last week, we came home with ten new picture books. The first one the kids chose to read was Wings by Christopher Myers, a book with colorful collage illustrations which complement the story beautifully. 

The story is a sad one, but with a rather happy and hopeful end, undoubtedly guaranteed to give its readers a surge of joy and inspiration, and courage to speak up for those who can't. At least, that's what it did for me and my boys—and our little visitors that day. 

Wings is about a boy named Ikarus Jackson, who clearly stands out from the crowd. Because he has wings, the kids in his neighbourhood, at school, and even his teacher neither understand nor accept him, and are very quick to judge and point their fingers. Ikarus goes from a fun-loving child at the beginning of the story, to a much sadder one later on, after all the snickering and isolation finally get to him. 

One girl, a quiet girl, thinks Ikarus is amazing. She watches as the others mock Ikarus Jackson and exclude him from their games. She feel bad for him; she knows what it feels like to be left out because you're different. 

The author illustrates at the end of the story what a difference one person's courage to speak up can make in another person's life, a difference which ripples through the communities we live in, and eventually the world. 

A beautiful book about kindness and courage; a must-read for everyone, young and old!

This review first appeared on My Quiet Adventures
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