Parents' Guide to

Flying Over Water

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Refugee friendship tale has strong tolerance, faith message.

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N.H. Senzai and Shannon Hitchcock collaborate on an earnest, diversity-rich story of a Muslim family from Syria, the community that welcomes them to Florida in 2017, and others who definitely don't. Flying Over Water presents 12-year-old main characters Noura (narrated by Senzai) and Jordyn (narrated by Livingston) as complex, relatable characters dealing with terrors and tragedies of their own who gain strength and insight from their growing friendship. Food, and regional cuisines from around the world, are important in building connections and community in the story. Tolerance and respect for one another's different traditions and beliefs are a big message, in lively scenes from daily life -- for example, a great scene involving no drama whatever about Noura's burkini during a swim lesson. Along the way, especially in the wake of class projects on immigration by middle schoolers, there are comical breakthroughs in cultural understanding, as this, in the wake of a Cuban American girl telling how her grandmother's family had fled Cuba to escape Castro's ban on religion:

"Penny said, 'I didn't realize Castro had banned Christmas. I'm not religious. but we still have a tree and presents. Who wouldn't like a tree and presents?'

"'A Communist,' said Lea."

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