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Book Review: Fly Away

In Fly Away, Patricia MacLachlan introduces us to a family full of love, talents and secrets. Lucy, the main character, is struggling to find her voice, in her poetry and in her singing. Compared to the opera, rap and lullabies sung by members of her musical family, Lucy can’t carry a tune.

When the family travels to visit Aunt Frankie in North Dakota, a deluge of rain, an overflowing river, and the near flooding of Aunt Frankie’s house challenge them. But the greatest danger comes when Lucy’s two-year old brother, Teddy, disappears. Love of music and revealing family secrets play an important role in the intense search for a little boy who doesn’t speak yet. With spoken and unspoken words, a family strengthens its resolve just as “the birdies fly away and they come back home.”

The book has a quiet tone amid adventurous moments. An engaging yet predictable plot unfolds through short chapters with large print. The format makes it a good read for students just dipping into chapter books or used as shared reading in grades 2-4. Fly Away demonstrates a strong sense of place, shows effective use of dialogue, and develops voice in writing. Teachers will find mini-lessons from Lucy’s hideaway poems, her love/hate relationship with a blank page, and her use of imagery for deliberate word choice. Students will find an authentic first-person narrative, believable characters, and the importance of setting in stories. Read away!

More information:

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon& Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
  • Year Published: 2014
  • Pages: 108
  • Other Works: Word After Word After Word, Sarah, Plain and Tall
  • Brief Bio:  Patricia MacLachlan is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newberry Medal. She is a board member of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, a national not-for-profit that actively advocates for literacy, literature, and libraries.

Rita Sorrentino profileRita Sorrentino is a recently retired teacher from Overbrook Elementary School in Philadelphia. Rita is finding new pathways for working with teachers and students to use digital tools for reading writing, speaking and listening. She presented ‘Beyond Superheroes: Using Comics Across the Curriculum” at the PETE&C Conference in Hershey in February. Rita joined the Pennsylvania Writing Project in 2004 and the Philadelphia Writing Project in 1994.

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