Author interview for Michael Dotsikas’ award-winning children's picture book,
Benjamin Birdie's First Flight

What happens when you leap before you’re ready to fly?

Benjamin Birdie wants to fly like all the other birds, like he was meant to! But his mama tells him he isn’t quite ready yet. Benjamin doesn’t listen, and tries to give flying a go – but falls all the way down from the top of the tree to the forest floor. Now Benjamin Birdie must ask for help from all of the other tree-dwellers to get back to the top of the tree. Charming rhymes and colorful illustrations bring this story about friendship to life and teach the importance of coming together to help someone in need. Children will learn about different exotic animals, what makes each of them special and how each of their unique qualities help get Benjamin back home to his nest!


“An endearing adventure with verse that soars.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Masterpiece. A must read for children and adults.”

Readers’ Favorite

Cover - Final.jpg

Bring Benjamin home!


Q & A

With Michael Dotsikas on Benjamin Birdie's First Flight

Where did you get the idea for the Benjamin Birdie story?

When my children were very young, we found a small robin’s nest in one of the trees in our backyard and noticed that one of the hatchlings had fallen out of its nest and was laying on the ground helpless. As I placed the hatchling back in its nest, my children asked what would have happened to the little bird if we weren’t around and how would it have gotten back to its nest. From that came the inspiration for Benjamin Birdie’s story.

How can Benjamin Birdie’s First flight translate to real-life experiences children and parents may face?

On a daily basis, we are all faced with challenges in our lives; some small, some big. We can overcome a lot of these challenges if we are kind to one another and respect our differences – just like the animals in Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight.

Benjamin Birdie’s story is very relevant in today’s world. We currently live in divisive times. Politics continue to divide our nation, including families, friends and media outlets. Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight teaches us that we could overcome divisiveness and contention with one simple attribute– kindness.

The animals in Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight represent humanity—different species of animals co-existing in this one tree. The tree represents our earth, or our nation, or our community. Similar to the different animals in the book, we come from different nationalities and cultures, have varying characteristics, and have different values and belief systems. What we can learn from Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight is that even with our differences we can still peacefully co-exist by displaying kindness and compassion towards one another and by helping each other in times of need. These behaviors will allow us to achieve anything we set our minds to – success, love, peace, and ultimately happiness. A kind world is a beautiful world.

If you could be any of the animal characters in Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight, who would you be?

That is a tough question because I love all the animals in the book. They each have their own special characteristics that make each of them lovable in their own unique way.


What is the first section you visit when you go to the zoo?

I don’t have any one favorite section, but I must admit that I love trying to find all the different bird species in the aviaries.

What message are you hoping to send by sharing information about endangered species in the book?

I did a lot of research for Benjamin Birdie’s story, choosing animals that are endangered or threatened so that I could raise awareness on this very important subject. Our earth is filled with a remarkable array of unique animals which all play an important role in our existence. We need to respect these amazing creatures by putting an end to illegal poaching and by stopping the deterioration of their ecosystems and territories that was brought on by humans. I want our children, grandchildren, and future generations to appreciate the vast species of animals and learn about what makes each animal unique, beautiful, and interesting.

How can readers contribute to the cause of saving endangered species?

They can read up on endangered species and also visit and research the websites of some wonderful organizations that are bringing awareness to the plight of these amazing animals. Some include:

World Wildlife Fund:
Defenders of Wildlife/Protecting Native Animals and their Habitats:
International Fund for Animal Welfare:

What do you want children to remember from Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight?

I want children (and adults) to remember that when we’re kind to one another we can accomplish great things that will fulfill and enrich our lives. Being humble and kind is the best way to live our lives and have the greatest impact on humanity.


Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight, is a masterfully written, spirited and beautifully illustrated work that educates as it entertains.

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