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Fly, Cher Ami, Fly!: The Pigeon Who Saved the Lost Battalion Hardcover – September 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—Burleigh sticks to the happier aspects of this last flight of the intrepid carrier pigeon whose timely message enabled the rescue of a stranded American battalion during the waning days of World War I. In the afterword, readers learn that Cher Ami was badly wounded during this flight—blinded in one eye and crippled when one of his legs was shot off. Since the action of Burleigh's narrative begins when the battalion is already surrounded behind enemy lines, it will be difficult for young readers to understand it within the context of the war itself. MacKenzie's sun-drenched palette is an odd choice for depicting battlefields. Then, too, readers may wish they had a fuller description of how Cher Ami came by his wooden prosthesis (on display with his body at the National Museum of American History) and of his recognition by the French government, which presented him with a medal for bravery. Somehow, this book misses the mark—sadly incongruous in a book about a homing pigeon.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Using a picture-book format, Burleigh tells the true story of the last flight of a U.S. Army Signal Corps carrier pigeon, which took place in France during World War I. Cher Ami was the last hope for the “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Division in the Battle of the Argonne. The pigeon managed to avoid ambushes of the German army and deliver the message that saved the battalion. Burleigh’s short text clearly depicts the story’s action, while MacKenzie’s full-page golden-hued yet somber illustrations add to the account by showing the drama from a variety of perspectives. Although an afterword notes that Cher Ami was badly wounded during the mission (the pigeon was patched up and lived until shortly after the war ended), no mention of that appears in the main text. Suggest this to teachers wanting books about World War I or interested in telling children how carrier pigeons were used in days gone by. Grades K-2. --Randall Enos

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 450L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081097097X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810970977
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Over the past 35 years, I have published poems, reviews, essays, many filmstrips and videos, and more than 40 children's picture books.

Born and raised in Chicago, I graduated from DePauw University (Greencastle, Indiana) and later received an MA in humanities from the University of Chicago. I've published books for children since the early 1990s. My books - including numerous unpublished ones! - run a broad gamut, from stories geared for pre-schoolers to survival stories and biographies aimed at seven to eleven-year-olds. My work is wide-ranging because, basically, I'm a generalist by experience - and inclination!

In addition to writing, I paint regularly under the art name Burleigh Kronquist and have shown work in one-person and group shows in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere around the country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Carol K. Christopher on June 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been studying WWI and discovered the incredible story of Cher Ami the carrier pigeon who, despite being injured and against terrible odds, delivered the message that did save the lost battalion. When I discovered that there was a children's book about this heroic bird, I immediately ordered it for our library collection. When it came, I was utterly disappointed and even a little bit angry. I could understand the author's effort to make the story suitable for very young children, but the story seemed all wrong. Even the message that Cher Ami carried was different. The author does clarify some of the historic facts in the afterward of the book.

If you just want a nice story about a brave bird who completes his mission against great odds then, ok, read the book. If you would like to get the facts, read the actual content of the note that was delivered and the circumstances that battalion found itself in (being shelled by friendly fire) I would recommend the movie "The Lost Battalion". Google Cher Ami. And there are several good lecture series available on CD. It's really worth looking into.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul B. Cora on February 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For Americans living in 1918, the last year of World War I, the legend of the "Lost Battalion" was a household topic. Commanded by Major Charles Whittlesey, a New York lawyer turned Army officer, the "Lost Battalion" was comprised of numerous elements of the US 77th Infantry Division. For six days during the October 1918 Meuse-Argonne offensive, the "Lost Battaltion" was cut off and surrounded by German forces in the Argonne Forest, stubbornly refusing surrender. At one point, a carrier pigeon nicknamed "Cher Ami" carried a message back to American lines which saved Whittlesey's men, who's exact position was unknown, from friendly artillery fire. Today "Cher Ami, " who died in 1919, is preserved and displayed at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History.

"Fly, Cher Ami, Fly" uses this real historical event for the basis of this touching and wonderfully illustrated children's story in which "Cher Ami" carries an important message through skies fraught with danger, ultimately saving the day. Young readers will doubtless be inspired to investigate further this chapter of American history. In this regard, "Fly, Cher Ami, Fly" is not only a fine story, but a great sower of seeds.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The topic of war is a difficult one to explain to young children. It was refreshing to see how tastefully Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! dealt with this sensitive subject. This book is geared towards 4-8 year olds. I am familiar with the true events surrounding Cher Ami's final flight, and I was frankly happy and relieved that the artist showed enough good judgement and restaint, so that my five year old didn't have to see a painting of a bird with its bloody eye hanging out, leg shot off and hole through his chest the size of a quarter. Children these days are bombarded with way too many violent images, and it was a relief that the horrors of war weren't grahically depicted in this children's book. Finally, here is book that deals with the human side of war. The soldiers are young and scared. The images are symbolic. The military uniforms are historically accurate. It seems to me that both author and artist honored the story of Cher Ami on a level that is appropriate for their target audience of 4-8 year olds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kubus on January 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Cher Ami was Hen bird (female not a male, this was discovered upon taxidermy procedure after her death), she was registered as a male (cock bird) and even her color registration was wrong. This information can be verified with US Army Signal Corps Fort Monmouth N.J. She is still being erroneously referred to as a he even by the museum where she is on display more than half a century later.
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