Parents' Guide to


By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

A car crash ends one life and begins another.

Whirligig Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 14+

good book not sure if its totally appropriate

this book was pretty good but there was talk of sexual harassment and also a kid is underage drinking and tries to kill himself. There is also a small amount of cursing.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 18+


I signed up just to warn parents about this book as it is being assigned in schools for reading without parents knowing the content and messages. Only because my son is on homework restrictions due to a concussion am I aware that the book was assigned. I am not one to coddle my kids but seriously you can't have young adolescents reading a book about so many people with suicidal thoughts with a message that Hey if you kill someone else instead, you get out of jail and get to go on an adventure on your own through the country. REALLY! Not only that but it is some of the worst writing I have ever seen. Prize winner maybe but not for this! Sometimes "literature" is assumed to be good because of who wrote it and not for itself. AND TEACHERS - think twice about assigning this book especially if you are not willing to deal with the unintentional emotional consequences it can create in young adolescents that may be having suicidal thoughts. It is not a feel good book and has no redeeming qualities what so ever. As I told his teacher no wind blown toy is going to fix a child who feels like the end of life is better than getting up the next day, some may think he was callus for his reasons to die but to kids like Brent I am sure they were real and this book does not validate that and should.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6):
Kids say (18):

Paul Fleischman has long been a solid children's author, but WHIRLIGIG is a tour-de-force. Breathtakingly powerful and vividly memorable, it is also multilayered. As Brent travels alone and struggles to come to terms with what he has done, his personality, priorities, direction, and indeed nearly everything about him is irrevocably changed, mostly for the better. The appalling consequences of his self-centeredness, and the rippling impact of his actions causes readers to look at their own lives in a new way.

The format can be confusing; the chapters showing the effects of the whirligigs don't follow the same order as Brent's creation of them, so the reader is often unsure which whirligig is involved. But eventually it doesn't seem to matter; the point is the unexpected consequences of our actions. This is the kind of book that latches onto readers and doesn't let go. More than a few readers have been driven to seek out books on the making of whirligigs, which the author makes fascinating and lovely.

Book Details

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