Tico is a little bird without wings who can’t fly, although he can sing and hop like other birds. Luckily, his friends love him and take care of him by bringing him tender fruit and nuts that they gather. One day, Tico meets a wishing bird and asks for the pair of golden wings that he has always desired.
Once his wish is granted, however, Tico finds that his friends no longer like him - they fear that he thinks he’s too good for them. Although Tico now owns the most splendid pair of golden wings in the world, he is lonely.
During his travels, Tico meets people who need his golden feathers more than he does - a man who can’t afford medicine for his sick child, a poor puppeteer with no puppets, an old woman who needs a spinning wheel, and a fisherman who needs a compass with which to navigate. Touched by their plights, Tico gives his beautiful golden feathers away to each of these people. To his surprise, real, silky feathers as black as India ink grow in the place of the feathers he so generously donated.
Now Tico is able to return to his friends and be another bird just like them. As Tico snuggles with his dear friends, he muses,
“now my wings are black, and yet I am not like my friends. We are all different. Each for his own memories, and his own invisible golden dreams.”
This beautiful book is a re-issue of a 1960’s classic from beloved children’s author-illustrator and four-time Caldecott Honor winner Leo Lionni, who created over forty children’s books. His other books include such classics as Swimmy, Frederick, Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, and An Extraordinary Egg.
Tico and the Golden Wings is a sweet, gentle fable about a generous bird who, once he gains the thing he most longs for, is able to give that very thing away to those more in need. The elegant stylized art and the exotic setting (India, from the appearance of the characters) add to the fairy tale-appeal of the work. A lovely and wise read, for children and adults alike.