Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan
Every year Lucy and her family head to North Dakota to help Aunt Frankie on her farm. This year the farm is being threatened by a flood, and they are heading to the farm even though Frankie told them it was dangerous. On the way, Lucy’s family stops and camps, listens to opera, and sings. But Lucy can’t sing at all and she knows it. Her little brother is a different story, no one else believes Lucy but Teddy can sing perfectly and even talks a bit, though he refuses to do so except with Lucy. Though she can’t sing, Lucy loves to write and she is trying to create a poem to prove to her father that a poem can be just as nice as a cow. Her father had dreamed of being a poet himself, but became a farmer instead. As the family gets to North Dakota, they face a dangerous river and Lucy has to find her own strength to save her little brother.
Told in a strong and clear voice, this novel invites readers into a family that is pure joy to spend time with. All of the family members have their own specific gifts and quirks, they communicate effortlessly with one another, and the entire book feels like you have entered someone’s home and are spending time with them. MacLachlan creates dialogue that feels real, but even more so she has created characters that are alive and honest on the page.
Thanks to the larger font and short chapters, this book will be welcoming for newer readers who may be trying their first chapter book without pictures. The warmth of the characters, the riveting danger of the river, and the thrilling ending will keep young readers fascinated until the end. This is also a great pick for sharing aloud with an elementary class.
MacLachlan has created a simple book that contains bountiful riches in setting, character and voice. It is a stellar read. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.