In this picturebook we meet Fly boy, a young boy who has wings but cannot fly. Symbolically his wings are red, representing anger. His anger increases and continues when he goes to school to a classroom full of fly boys and girls – all with wings but none with red wings like his. His friend Thomas has blue wings; Thomas is peaceful, he can fly. Fly boy desperately wants to escape and fly like his friend, but he is too full of anger, jealousy and sadness.
Thomas tries to make him feel better by hugging him. When Fly boy allows himself to let go of his anger, to hope and breathe his wings change to a cool and calm blue like Thomas’s and he finds he can fly.
This book is intended as a story about believing in yourself. A major theme of the story seems to be to not allow negative feelings prevent you from succeeding and the importance of allowing others to help you is also suggested. It is left to the reader to deduce why Fly boy is so angry in the first place – the text mentions noise at home and the illustrations indicate there is parental conflict.
The author’s poetic background is evident in the rhythm and rhyme throughout the book. The illustrator has done her best to make the whimsical text concrete by creating a classroom of angels with wings of differing pastel colours, and contrasting Fly boy’s anger and depression at the beginning of the book with attractive dream like images at the end of the book as he transforms.
The story could provide a starting point to discussions about managing negative feelings such as anger, however the abstract nature of the message would be hard for young children to grasp if read independently.