The Top Shelf: ‘If I Never Forever Endeavor’

April 7, 2011 Updated: October 8, 2018

`If I Never Forever Endeavor` (Courtesy of Candlewick Press)
`If I Never Forever Endeavor` (Courtesy of Candlewick Press)
Award-winning illustrator Holly Meade is responsible for both the whimsical collage-like pictures as well as the simple yet poetic words of this spring’s standout children’s book, If I Never Forever Endeavor. Both elements blend flawlessly, culminating in a work that is fit for its intended audience of young children, as well as anyone who has stood before a life decision.

The cover illustration speaks volumes, as we see a yellow bird with a concerned eye peering over the edge of its nest. “If in all of forever, I never endeavor to fly, I won’t know if I can,” the little bird begins. “I won’t know if I can’t.”

As he ponders his dilemma from his comfortable nest, he imagines the success of soaring through the sky with other birds and seeing the world; and he imagines the embarrassment of failure and wonders about the unknown world he might “get lost in.”

“Who needs to fly—ever?” he ponders. As he watches the birds around him swoop through the sky, might he summon the courage to try?

Meade has successfully utilized the metaphor of a young bird’s first flight in a way that will be endearing and understandable to young children, as well as touching and meaningful to older and adult readers. The comfort of the nest and what is familiar and safe contrasted with the opportunity for glory and the possibility of defeat are conveyed with great depth and heart, despite the simplicity of the words and size of the book.

If I Never Forever Endeavor belongs on the top shelf for young children who are surrounded with new experiences and things to try, graduates contemplating their futures, or anyone looking beyond their “nest” and pondering a new “endeavor.”

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