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Born to Fly Paperback – March 8, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–7—Bird McGill regards her dad as her best friend. He takes her up in the planes he repairs and lets her take the controls, and he encourages her dream of becoming a pilot. But a special bulletin disrupts her 11th-birthday afternoon: Japan has attacked the military base in Pearl Harbor, and Bird's world is turned upside down. During the next few months, the local airstrip is turned into a military flight school, and her dad is shipped overseas. When a Japanese-American boy joins Bird's class that spring, he is met with distrust. Although his uncle, with whom he is staying, is a longtime resident of Bird's Rhode Island town, they are both thought to be spies, or at least loyal to Japan. Circumstances compel Kenji and Bird to join forces one day to escape Farley, a class bully, and in the process they stumble on evidence of an enemy submarine in the area. When they attempt to report what they have seen, nobody believes them. Their problems are compounded when Farley's shiftless father is murdered and the local engine factory is sabotaged: Kenji's uncle is blamed. Only Bird can clear Uncle Tomo, but the murderer has threatened to kill her family if she speaks up. Well-developed characters make this story of friendship amid hostilities shine. While the coincidences surrounding the murderer can stretch credulity at times, this action-packed first novel is full of engaging twists and turns, and readers learn about the injustices done to many Japanese Americans during World War II. First-rate historical fiction.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Ferrari has worked as an English teacher, vacuum cleaner salesman, freight dockworker, lipstick machine operator, air-to-air cameraman, network T.V. censor, and feature film editor.  He got the idea for Born to Fly at a World War II airshow when he overheard a boy tell his little sister as she climbed inside a P-40 cockpit that girls can never be fighter pilots.  It broke her heart.  He wrote the story for her, and his daughters.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375846077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375846076
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Ferrari lives in Ohio, where he is a writer and a teacher.

BORN TO FLY won the Delacorte Yearling Prize for a first middle grade novel. Mr. Ferrari got the idea for BORN TO FLY at a WWII airshow, when he overheard a boy telling his little sister that girls could never be fighter pilots. He wrote the story for her, and his daughters.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I may be only 9 years old, but I've read a lot of good books. And this marvelous book `Born To Fly` is one of my top 5,maybe even top 3, favorites. I am glad that someone finally made an action-adventure novel with a real female heroine. I also like the friendship bond that happens between Kenji and Bird. Lastly, I absolutely love the increasing drama. All in all, I think the book deserves the Delacorte Yearling Prize. Thank you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Herting on August 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a librarian, I catalog a lot of childrens and young adult books. I try to read the ones that catch my eye. "Born to fly" is definitely one for parents and teachers to suggest to their kids. This is one of a small group of books that gives the reader some historical content (it's set in 1941, WWII) without bogging down the action and losing the main point of the story which is that, "girls can be action heroes just as well as boys." From this point of view, the story should speak to any generation of children. It may also be a good read for children who have lost parents to the war, helping them to carry on. The book also introduces the reader to the problems that happen when predjudice runs above reason (the problems that Japanese Americans encountered during WWII). The adventurous pace and humor move the story along fast enough that even difficult readers should be enticed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Rodgers on March 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book a few weeks ago for my 9 year old granddaughter. She was home sick one day last week and told me on the phone she had started it that day and finished it in the evening. She thought it was a great book and it obviously captivated her for the afternoon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Turner on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Born to Fly is a great book for everyone. It's well written, story moves quickly, and characters are well developed. I gave copies to my family and they keep raving about it (my father-in-law hopes they'll make a movie out of this book). It's well done -- get a copy and enjoy!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kent on October 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Born to Fly is a an extemely enjoyable adventure novel that stars a girl, but which will be loved by both boys and girls. Ferrari's writing is wonderful throughout and I have a number of great excerpts to share with you. To start with, here is the novel's first sentence:

Just because I was a girl in 1941, don't think I was some sissy. Shoot, I saw stuff that would've made that bully Farley Peck pee right through his pants.

I love that opening because it does three things right away: it introduces our character and gives the reader a feel for her, it promises conflict, and it just comes right out with the date. I'm often frustrated with historical novels that wait ten or twenty or even fifty pages to tell me when the story is taking place. Granted, sometimes it's more important to open with an exciting event or a character exchange and not every novel can or should begin with a character reading a newspaper or listening to the date on the radio.

But whenever possible, if the time period is important to a story, it's better if writers follow Ferrari's lead and just come right out with the date. Otherwise, I, and I don't think I'm the only one, will be distracted through the first part of the story checking the back cover or skimming ahead to find a date and a frame of reference--that's valuable time that I'm not hooked by the writer and being drawn into the narrative.

I could tell you about the main character in Born to Fly, but Ferrari does a much better job of writing a resonating character description to catch the reader's imagination:

Seeing me in my World War One pilot's skullcap and goggles and my Huck Finn dungarees, you would've never guessed that someone with a neat name like Bird McGill was actually just an eleven-year-old girl.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Y. Pak on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This was a fantastic read - I sat down to read a few chapters and couldn't put the book until I was finished. All the characters in the book have depth and I felt just totally immersed in Bird's adventure. The story provided real suspense but also hope and understanding and true integrity. Although it starts about a girl proving she's not be a 'sissy', it was a really poignant and touching coming of age story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Ryan on August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Ferrari's first book, Born to Fly, is wonderful. Bird, her family, and friends are well defined. The book contains elements of racism, sexism, and espionage - all written for middle grade youth. Set in 1941 the author manages to give the reader the flavor of the era as well as the personality elements that are ageless. I believe Michael is destined to be a highly successful writer. Good job, Michael
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chris Garver on June 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The character development is very good. The history presented is accurate, and I am glad to see "uncomfortable" aspects of history being presented, even though a lot of teachers are using books that delete the "politically incorrect" parts of our history. Kids today NEED to know history as it really was, the good, the bad, all of it. I would recommend this book to anyone, parents included!!
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