Fly with Wounded Wings is a lovely book written by California writer, Peter Gullerud. Mr. Gullerud is a former Disney artist and illustrated the book with many gorgeous pictures. His work can be seen on the cover in rich indigo blues. The main characters of the book are animals, mostly birds. His artwork of the birds shows a playful mix of somewhat anthropomorphised facial features with distinctly realistic looking bodies. The result is wonderful. I would have bought the book for the pictures alone they are so delightful. I think young adult readers through adult readers will enjoy the storyline. The author likens it to Richard Adams famous novel: "Watership Down." I was a little bit reminded of Felix Salten's original "Bambi" which was both delicious and complex, bearing little resemblance to the animated Disney movie bearing the same name.
If there is any "con" it would simply be that this book at present is not in bookstores. You may buy it at Lulu.com, where I found it. It is presently available in both paperback and hardback. I found this book because I had been a fan of Mr. Gullerud's artwork for some time, which can be found for sale on Ebay. He mostly works in brilliantly hued acrylic paint, yet his pencil drawing are very fine. The brightly juxtaposed colors and sinewy lines of his work remind me vaguely of Vincent Van Gogh, although the subject matter is completely different.
This engaging tale begins in the human world with an Alaskan family, and their daughter Jasmine. Young readers will be able to relate to the teenager. She is a pretty girl, with no extraordinary talent until an unfortunate accident, which happens rather early on in the story. The result of a head trauma gifts her abruptly with a gift and focus on fine art, which she did not have before the accident. The action then shifts to the animal world. Cora, a beautiful Canadian goose has recovered from a wound, however, is still too slow to keep up with her flock when they plan to fly south for the winter.
Cora is a sweet and patient personality. She forges an unlikely friendship with a crow and from there manages to meet many other birds: swans, ducks, etc. after she is abandoned by her flock. The animals have a view toward humans, not always so flattering. Let me note here, both good hunters and bad hunters are depicted. By that I mean, boys who take pot shots at crows, obviously not because they are shooting for food. Their terror toward humans is not depicted quite as vividly as it was in Salten's "Bambi" where the deer could hardly stand the smell of humans, mostly because birds do not depend on a sense of smell so acutely. Their confusion over human behavior, and attempts at understanding us, are described very poignantly. Mr. Gullerud has certainly spent some time with animals.
Interspersed through the book are "teaching moments" where the author steps back to explain something about the nature of birds or animals which are interesting. Sometimes it only to define a word, other times it is to explain patterns. For example, I did not realize that geese mate for life. It is an interesting concept. One wonders how it is that some animals can do this naturally, while we humans can hardly make it half the time without a divorce. The author playfully adds dialogue from the mother goose advising her children to "choose carefully!" This is a nice message for young people. Although the reading level is a bit above a ten year olds capability, if you read it aloud to your kids you might instill some warm morality. While some of the action IS intense, it is surely not worse than any average PG-13 rated movie.
Other themes in the book are besides fidelity, are honesty, the importance of friends and family, and integrity. The young people in the book do not always obey their parents. However, when Jasmine argues with her father, it is clearly depicted as her taking the "higher ground." It becomes a teaching moment for her shame faced father, who ends up apologizing for the harm he has done to a large male goose. One comes away with respect for the father because he has shown personal growth. It is definitely NOT a book with sassy disrespectful teens or vulgar commentary. This is a thoughtful beautiful book with an absorbing story line.
Older teens and adults may develop a curiosity about Alaska after reading this book. It sounds vast and wild full of haunting beauty. The peacefulness of bird watching or trout fishing would be alluring.
In his forward to the reader, the author tells an interesting back-story about how this slender volume came to be published. Apparently a major publisher was interested in this fine story and even wanted to promote plush animal toys in conjunction with the work. It would have looked nice at a Borders Bookstore. Who isn't drawn toward the books with companion animals? Apparently after two years of excitement and research the publishers changed their tack. A whole new direction was established. They were apparently afraid the book wouldn't sell if it came down to heavy on hunters. A fact I would hardly believe myself, except it's written in the preface. I mean are hunters really such a large buying group that publishers worry about offending them?
In a surrealistic attempt at placating the hunter-reading society, the publishers suggested to the author this work be condensed to the size of a picture book. With the story line shredded to a few lines each page, they were convinced it would sell as well as Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Horrified, maybe more like enraged, with this outcome, the author took back his manuscript and published the piece as written with the independent press Lulu.com. I would love to see this book sell enough to have a second printing with a larger publisher, so that more people could enjoy it.