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Mel Fell

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A tale about self-confidence and taking a leap of faith, starring a kingfisher.

Sometimes, you might fall




before you learn to fly




40 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2021

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About the author

Corey R. Tabor

18 books53 followers
Corey R. Tabor grew up in Wyoming, where he once spent the night in a cave by an underground waterfall. He now lives with his wife in Seattle, where he draws and reads and explores. Please visit him at coreyrtabor.com.

from https://www.readbrightly.com/meet-ill...

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5 stars
1,289 (56%)
4 stars
763 (33%)
3 stars
191 (8%)
2 stars
17 (<1%)
1 star
7 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 489 reviews
Profile Image for Calista.
3,803 reviews31.2k followers
May 3, 2022
What a fantastically focused idea. I mean, it's so simple and the surprise is so wonderful. This is a Caldecott Nom and I wasn't all that impressed with the artwork, not that it was bad. It was simply serviceable. It's the execution of the story that makes it so impressive. The way the art was so important to the story being told. The artwork was simply, but so important to the feeling of the story.

Mel has decided, being the precocious bird she is, that today is the day she will fly while mom is away. It's funny as she doesn't even open her wings, she simply dive bombs and we see all these creatures along the tree trying to help her like bees and a spider. None can help.

I do want to talk about the rest, so

Spoilers Ahead:

This really will spoil the whole experience for you. I suggest not reading this until after you read the book as it's worth it. The birth hits the water and then you have to flip the book around and the bird starts to fly upward with a goldfish in it's mouth. It's so joyful to watch that bird go up. It lifts your spirit with it. I can see kids loving this little quirk. It's such a little thing and it felt almost magical.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,824 reviews35 followers
November 23, 2021
This interactive picture book about a little bird learning to fly was wonderful! Read it on your own or read it to the young ones in your life. Either way, it will put a smile on your face.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,359 reviews202 followers
May 20, 2021

I love Mel! This little bird captures and inspires huge determination and self confidence.

“Mel was scared and it was a long drop, but today was the day she would fly.”

With a smile on her face and a flip in the air, Mel jumps from her nest and…..falls. Bees and squirrels and ants all try to save Mell from a hard landing. But no one can slow her down! What happens to Mel? Go read and find out.

I love the design of this book. You read the tall vertical way and then turn, turn, and flip it around as Mel falls. So much fun! And different. It brings an energy to the pages that will make you smile and cheer.

Recommended. Come fall and maybe fly with Mel!

Profile Image for Anthony.
5,198 reviews24 followers
November 18, 2022
A humorous tale of a plucky, confident little Kingfisher who is determined to fly. She leaps away from her nest, leaving her siblings behind, and takes off...falling. But as Mel fell, everyone in the tree tried to save her, but no one could, and Mel learns that sometimes you have to fall before you can fly.
Profile Image for Abby Johnson.
3,373 reviews309 followers
April 3, 2021
Okay, I knew that with Corey R. Tabor I was in for a treat, but this adorable, funny picture book about a young kingfisher bird leaving the nest for the first time is a delight. With very simple text and funny situations in the illustrations, this is a wonderfully surprising and humorous tale.
Profile Image for Joan.
1,960 reviews
March 11, 2022
What a delightful book! Mel is a kingfisher and decides today she is learning to fly while mama is away (of course!). Her siblings and many friends try to help/stop her but down she goes! Not too many authors/illustrators have the nerve blithely ignore tradition and make use of the other ways a book can be held to tell a story and get away with it but this author did, and it is marvelous! I love the nonfiction addition explains that Mel is a kingfisher and this is normal behavior, even if being successful the first time likely isn’t! Librarians, try and find an easy read nonfiction book on kingfishers to have available, because kids will want that after reading this! I love how the ecology of a tree is shown, with many species living in the one tree! Highly recommended! 2022 Caldecott Honor Award.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,772 reviews281 followers
March 28, 2021
Wasn't this fun?!

Mel decides it is time she learns to fly, much to the concern of her birdie siblings in the nest. Off she goes, but instead of flying, down she falls. Her fellow creatures (bees, snails, spiders, squirrels) attempt to catch her, but it is to no avail. Splash! Into the water she goes, where she catches a fish and is surprised to discover that she can fly up and out of the water. Up she goes. Flying.

So fun. Clever use of page space makes reading this book a physical experience, which is fun. The little asides of the creatures Mel passes going both up and down are clever, which is fun. And Mel's experience of falling and then flying is an elating experience, which is fun. So fun.
Profile Image for Richie Partington.
1,077 reviews123 followers
October 7, 2021
Richie’s Picks: MEL FELL by Corey R. Tabor, HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, February 2021, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-06-287801-4

“There you stood on the edge of your feather
Expecting to fly
While I laughed, I wondered whether
I could wave goodbye”
– Neil Young (1967)

In what circumstances did you necessarily spread your wings as a young child. For me, two particularly nerve-wracking incidents that come to mind were learning to swim, and getting on the little bus for the first day of nursery school.

We all face pivotal moments when we necessarily take developmental steps toward independence and growing up.

MEL FELL is a lighthearted picture book about a young female kingfisher chick who decides that it is time to leave the nest and learn to fly.

“The squirrels tried to catch her. They really did. They’d grown quite fond of those squeaky little chirpers upstairs.
(Blast!) (Nuts!) (Oof!) (Aieeeeeee!)
But it was no use. They missed her by a whisker.

‘Zzeezill zzayzzoo!’* said the bees. But they barely slowed her down.
(*”We will save you!)

Even the spider lent a hand. (Eight of them.)”

Everybody tries to lend a hand when Mel deliberately plummets from the hole high in the tree where she and her sibs have been raised.

MEL FELL is an innovatively-designed picture book that is designed to be held with the spine at top. The pages are turned from bottom to top as the young bird descends and splashes into the pond below. Then, after impressively catching a fish underwater, the book is turned 180 degrees (so the bottom becomes the top) as the jubilant youngster begins flying back up to the nest. All of the critters who tried to save her are now whooping it up in celebration of Mel’s achievement.

There’s a thoroughly happy ending–at least in my book–as the fish escapes lunchtime when Mel proudly boasts to Mom that,

“‘I flew, I flew!’ said Mel.
(‘I’m flying! I’m flying!’) [chortles the falling fish]
‘I knew you could,’ said Mama.
‘I knew I could, too,’ said Mel.”

MEL FELL is a stellar book for sharing fears of the next steps we need to take on our road to becoming big boys and girls. Like in the real world, Mel’s adventure is also a lot of fun!

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com
Profile Image for Bethe.
5,845 reviews51 followers
March 23, 2021
Adorable story of a bird who takes the process of learning to fly into her own wings, in spite of her fear. At the last moment there is a surprise (I thought Mel was a bluebird) and she is successful. Love the animals cheering her on, marvelous facial expressions on all.
Profile Image for Shari (Shira).
2,081 reviews
July 13, 2021
So incredibly charming and adorable! I read it to my dog who was fascinated. The read aloud set will cheer Mel on as she goes out on a limb and attempts to fly for the first time. Give a big hand to the tree community, too.
Profile Image for Deborah.
731 reviews46 followers
July 23, 2021
I loved the concept of turning the book around to read. A baby Kingfisher decides it’s time to fly. The owls, squirrels, bees, spiders, snail, ants, and lady bug all watch as she plunges down and then soars upward. Heartwarming illustrations of this special, plucky, and brave bird.
2,682 reviews4 followers
July 7, 2021
Extra star for the format. I can't believe nobody came up with it before! Will definitely make for good Mock Caldecott discussion.
Profile Image for Dan.
1,048 reviews77 followers
September 8, 2021
Well, this was an absolute joy to read. I can't wait to share it with kids!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
287 reviews2 followers
September 12, 2021
This book is so simple and my kids love it. It has a sweet message about determination, is somewhat interactive and it’s even funny.
758 reviews2 followers
May 11, 2022
What an enjoyable engaging picture book. I loved the small directions to help young readers understand how to hold the book. The note about kingfishers in the back was an added bonus.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13k reviews268 followers
March 20, 2021
Although this picture book contains a story about Mel, a young kingfisher who decides that it's time to venture from the nest and spread her wings, it's also a message of resilience. The author makes it clear that Mel is a bit scared of how far she may fall if things don't work out, she's determined to fly. While her bird siblings watch on, she plummets downward, passing other creatures along the way, each of them offering to catch her or watching in horror. Savvy readers will want to pay attention to Mel's posture and her eyes as she nears the ground. Once she lands with a SPLASH, readers will need to turn the book from its atypical horizontal position to a vertical position and then on the following pages to a horizontal one as Mel flies triumphantly back to her nest with a fish in her bill. Young readers will enjoy having to flip the book in different directions and all the action along the side of that tree as Mel is going down and then up. Of course, the reminder that sometimes it's necessary to take risks and fail or fall before we can succeed is an important life lesson. There are details on several pages that are worth noting too; for instance, the back cover shows the kingfisher family high up in that very tall tree as well as the other living things that are using it as their home. On the opening pages, there's a close-up of the branch where Mama Bird is standing, and even Mel says that Mama is away, the title page shows that she's standing right above the baby birds on the branch above them. This picture book is unique in its perspective and design, and young readers will want to read or hear it read over and over again. The use of pencils, colored pencils, and acrylic paint prior to digital assemblage of the illustrations results in pages that encourage readers' eyes to follow the direction of Mel's flight, going up or down. Plus, it's pretty cool that Mel is identified with female pronouns.
Profile Image for Cyndi Giorgis.
5 reviews
January 10, 2022
Mel is a plucky little bird who decides one day while Mama is away, that it’s time she learned how to fly. So out of the nest she jumped, and flipped, and spread her wings, and then she fell. As Mel nose-dived straight down, the squirrels, bees, spider, and slug all attempt to catch her. When the ladybug exclaims, “Oh no!”, Mel opens her eyes and the next sound is a loud “SPLASH”. In the water, Mel snaps her beak and catches a fat little fish. And then Mel flies straight back up to the nest with the slug, spider, bees, and squirrels cheering her on. Upon her arrival, Mel drops the fish and gets a hug from Mama who didn’t doubt for a minute that her baby bird could fly. The physicality of the book that requires the reader to turn it as Mel flies back to the nest is a delightful aspect of the book. An author’s note explaining that Mel is a kingfisher who catches fish by diving into the water is a perfect ending to this innovative tale.
Profile Image for Linda .
3,659 reviews40 followers
February 22, 2022
Young Mel, a kingfisher, decides it's her day to learn to fly. What happens next, with the whole community there cheering and helping, will make you smile at her flighty adventure down and worry at the end! Corey R. Tabor writes and illustrates this book of nervous anticipation and happy relief in colorful pastel illustrations with lots of white space. His focus on an inspiring story about challenges and courage is both inspiring and fun. He adds a brief paragraph about kingfishers that shows the science behind the story. Don't miss this one!
Profile Image for Ashley.
1,392 reviews19 followers
March 30, 2021
Loved this cute story about everyone trying to help out as a little kingfisher jumps out of the nest for the first time and begins to fall a long way. Creative use of the book format. This one would be great for storytime or for home reading where the reader makes a big show of the suspense of each page of Mel falling. Side characters like the snail also provide opportunities for comic relief.

Recommended as a silly story with high stakes and great relief for ages 3 to 7.
Profile Image for Natalie.
850 reviews
February 4, 2022
Today, Mel is going to learn how to fly. She takes a leap (literally) of faith, and falls! She falls and keeps falling until she accomplishes what she needs to do and then she flies!

This is a super cute book about a kingfisher bird's first time diving and flying for food. I liked how you are made to turn the book around to make the feel more real of when Mel changes direction from diving to flying.
Profile Image for Shaye Miller.
1,236 reviews81 followers
February 19, 2021
I must get a copy of this one for my home!! I love how the book orientation changes mid-story. Millicent Library did a virtual read aloud of this story on Youtube - very cute!

For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!!
Profile Image for Cara Byrne.
3,079 reviews18 followers
July 7, 2021
When you pick a book off the shelf, and laugh because you are holding it the right and wrong way at the same time, you know you are in for something special. Mel Fell is special. It's both a triumph in playing with the book form (how one holds it and twists it) and in storytelling (which is downright fun).
Profile Image for Kathie.
557 reviews1 follower
March 24, 2021
Very Cute! Mel decides it's time to fly one day, so she did.
A story about kingfishers - a type of bird that dives for their food.
Original in design, layout, and story, this book is a wonderfully delivered story about trying.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,786 reviews87 followers
April 29, 2021
A kingfisher bird takes her first solo flight in this fun, charmingly-illustrated book that will have readers turning the book vertically and horizontally as they follow Mel's path.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 489 reviews

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