Sometimes You Fly

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Sometimes You Fly Book Poster Image
Joyous celebration of the trial and error of growing up.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows various stages of childhood and learning, including sports, school, learning to swim and drive, falling in love, making friends, burying a pet goldfish.

Positive Messages

"Remember, then / with every try, / sometimes you fail, / sometimes you fly." Learn from your mistakes. "Each recipe we undertake / can rise or fall, / can burn or bake. / But when we break / we learn to mend. / When breezes blow / we learn to bend."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Boys and girls in the diverse cast make mistakes but keep trying and succeed. The parents are loving and supportive. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery Medal winner Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan), is a charming, wonderfully illustrated picture book with a simple, wise message that growing up involves a lot of trial and error. Using a baking metaphor, Applegate writes, "Each recipe we undertake / can rise or fall, / can burn or bake." And she concludes, "Remember, then / with every try, / sometimes you fail, / sometimes you fly. / What matters most / is what you take / from all you learn / before the cake." Showing diverse kids from a food-smeared baby to a student driver to a black-robed graduate throwing his mortarboard up into the sky, Sometimes You Fly highlights both goofs and accomplishments with warmth and humor. 

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What's the story?

The messy hard work of childhood (and parenthood) is on full display in SOMETIMES YOU FLY. Kids are pictured at various stages, from infancy through graduation, achieving milestones including eating the first solid food, learning to swim, growing tall enough to ride the roller coaster, making friends, learning to hit a baseball, learning to drive, first love, the grief of burying a pet, earning a diploma in cap and gown. 

Is it any good?

This capsule view of growing up uses irresistible art and spare rhythmic text to convey a message to keep trying and learn from your mistakes and disappointments. Young readers will enjoy the funny kids and familiar situations portrayed -- such as a boy stubbornly refusing to get in the wading pool on one page but ready to dive in the ocean waves on the next, or a girl struggling to hit a baseball on one page then leaping for joy at making the softball team on the next. But Sometimes You Fly may also have appeal as a graduation gift, like Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go! It's delightful whether the reader is looking forward or back.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the situations in Sometimes You Fly. Are there any you remember going through? Any you are looking forward to? 

  • Why do you think the author compares growing up to baking a cake? Does that idea make sense to you? What ingredients make up your life so far? 

  • What are your favorite pictures in Sometimes You Fly? Are any of the mistakes ones you have made? What's the funniest picture? Which is the saddest? What did the artist do to make the kid look sad? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and family stories

Themes & Topics

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