Day: April 28, 2014

Review: Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

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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.

Review: Lindbergh by Torben Kuhlmann

lindbergh

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlman

Translated from the original German, this picture book takes a mouse-sized look at Charles Lindbergh’s flight.  A little mouse loved to spend time reading human books but when he emerged from reading he discovered that all of the other mice had left Europe for America.  He was left alone.  He tried to board a steamer ship to cross the Atlantic, but there were cats waiting and guarding the door.  Then the little mouse had a great idea, he would fly across the Atlantic.  His experiments proved dangerous as the cats and owls emerged to hunt him down.  The little mouse did not give up he kept redesigning the wings, the engine, the frame.  But would it be enough to get him across the Atlantic to freedom?

The story of this book is entirely captivating, even for those not interested in airplanes or flight.  It is both a celebration of the small overcoming the powerful and also of ingenuity overcoming adversity.  It also shows how much of a force resilience in when solving a problem.  Even better, the book itself is a history lesson about human (and mouse) flight and how it progressed from wings to full aircraft.

Kuhlman’s art is radiant.  He creates pages with no words that are panoramas of cities, of train stations, of clock towers.  Other pages are filled with mice, owls and cats from various perspectives that add drama.  Then on other pages, you can see his skill with drafting and the diagrams of various inventions.  The art here takes the book to another level, creating a world where you believe that a mouse was the first to fly across the Atlantic. 

Beautiful and memorable, this picture book celebrates flight, ingenuity and perseverance.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.