A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fly Away is an early-grade novel by Patricia MacLachlan, the author of Newbery Award-winning book Sarah Plain and Tall. The story follows the journey of a family making their way to the home of a relative who lives in a flood zone and needs their help. MacLaughlin highlights the individual strengths and weaknesses of each character, and the special closeness between the oldest child, Lucy, and her toddler brother, Teddy. There are suspenseful situations, including a missing child. But overall, there's nothing in this lovely book to upset or offend readers.
What's the story?
When Patricia MacLachlan's early-grade novel FLY AWAY begins, a family of five are on a road trip to the home of great aunt Frankie, who lives in a riverfront flood zone. A storm's on the way, and the family members mean to help defend the older woman's house. Readers learn that the dad, Boots, is a farmer and former poet who loves cows, and he and the mom, Maggie, are big music lovers. The oldest child, Lucy, writes poetry as well and has an especially close relationship with the youngest child, a toddler named Teddy. Teddy cuddles with Lucy late at night and sings to her, even though he doesn't talk much yet. However, Lucy says she can't sing at all. Gracie, in the middle, draws well and sings like a bird. The family arrives at Frankie's place and they help her lay sandbags and move supplies to higher ground before the storm hits. At night, the rain makes a lot of noise, but Frankie hears Teddy singing to Lucy through a vent in the wall. After the storm, everyone feels relieved that they're safe. But panic sets in when Maggie realizes that one of her children is missing.
Is it any good?
Patricia MacLachlan's economical writing in Fly Away is successful on multiple levels. This book's simple enough to be easily enjoyable for young readers, and the prose is so carefully chosen that the story reads as poetry.
The book also highlights beautiful, warm family relationships in which individual growth is valued but caring is paramount. This is a lovely, cozy book full of well-drawn characters who know they are loved.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sibling relationships. What makes your relationship with your sibling(s) special? What is special about Lucy and Teddy's relationship?
What does it mean to the children's mom for Teddy to finally say "Mama"? What other memorable family stories have you read or seen in the movies?
Lucy and her dad are both poets. Try writing your own poem about a character in this book. It doesn't have to rhyme!
- Author: Patricia MacLachlan
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Brothers and sisters, Horses and farm animals, Music and sing-along
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
- Publication date: April 8, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 7 - 12
- Number of pages: 128
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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