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The Art of Flying: A Novel Hardcover – October 29, 2013

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423158156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423158158
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—In this debut fantasy, Hoffman spins a tale of transformation. Eleven-year-old Fortuna's presence has been requested by her mysterious and strange neighbors, the old Baldwin sisters. They have transformed a sparrow into a boy, now called Martin, and are trying to restore him to his former self. However, Martin has run away, and they only have five days to turn him back before the change becomes permanent. Fortuna is recruited to help find the missing child because she's the daughter of a bird scientist, and as a child, she still has the ability to believe in magic. As she sets out on her hunt, her friend Peter has his own adventure in the woods, including a puzzling boy with birdlike qualities. Could this be the missing Martin? Or are there two fowl-turned-kids roaming their neighborhood? And who is the threatening man lurking near Fortuna's house, and how is he connected to the girl's quest? Fortuna is a likeable protagonist and the witchy sisters are comical, and ever-so-slightly scary. The transformed characters retain certain bird mannerisms, which adds interest and mild humor. The plot resolves neatly and satisfactorily, making this novel an appealing choice for those who like their fantasy on a smaller scale.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City

From Booklist

Fortuna Dalliance has been sent on a mysterious mission to the Baldwins’ house, and she’s pretty sure they’re not just friendly old ladies down the street. The Baldwins, a pair of elderly witches, have accidentally turned three birds into people, which is an act punishable by death. Now they desperately need Fortuna to help them find Martin, one of the birds who escaped from their home, so they can turn him back before anyone on the witches’ council is the wiser. The only problem is that Martin doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Baldwins. Moreover, the two other birds, Martin’s brother and the cruel owl Arrakis, who wants to stay a human forever, are nowhere to be found. With the help of a magic notebook and a few talkative birds in the neighborhood, Fortuna and Martin set off on a search for the newly transformed. Though it suffers from uneven pacing and somewhat one-dimensional characters, Hoffman’s debut has enough magic and humorous witches to appeal to burgeoning fantasy fans. Grades 3-7. --Sarah Hunter

More About the Author

Before putting pen to paper, Judy Hoffman earned a degree in computer science after which she spent a number of years in the corporate world wrestling with computers and manipulating data. Interesting work, but not particularly creative. One momentous day, she decided to bring creative energy back into her life by starting a business, a family and a writing career - all at the same time.

The results of that life changing decision culminated in the birth of Troy Hoffman, Cale Hoffman, the J Hoffman Lumber Company and many writing endeavors leading up to her first published novel, The Art of Flying.

Inspiration for Ms. Hoffman's writing comes from the view outside her multi-windowed writing room. She and her husband run their antique reclaimed lumber business outside of Chicago, where they live with their teenage sons and two over-sized dogs.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patricia J. Esposito on November 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Adventure begins immediately in The Art of Flying, as eleven-year-old Fortuna knocks on the door of the scary old house where the Baldwin sisters live. Sent to perform a favor at her mother’s bequest, Fortuna figures that at least it will impress her brothers that she went inside the scary old house. But as the sweet old aunts offer her cookies and tea, she finds their behavior and their request more than a little strange.

Behind the parlor curtains, a skinny tousled-hair boy in mismatched clothes stands “hopping and flinching” at the sight of the aunts’ fat cat. The aunts call him Martin, but Fortuna learns that Martin is not quite what he seems. Kind aunt Ellie performed some magic forbidden by the coven of witches, and now the aunts want Fortuna to help them reverse the spell. Her job is to remind this odd boy who “pecks at his biscuits” that he has to return to what he truly is: a bird.

Fortuna doesn’t believe in magic or witches or transformations from bird to boy, but when Aunt Selena tests her courage through a magic spell, Fortuna realizes her mother was wrong: “the Baldwin sisters were not sweet, little old ladies.” That’s when Martin escapes through a window and Fortuna’s adventure begin.

Fortuna is on a quest to find Martin and convince him to be a bird again, but Martin is on a quest to find his brother who has also been transformed into a human. Both quickly discover they are the target of someone else’s quest: Arrakis, the nasty owl turned into a man. He wants to capture both Martin and his brother, both now lost somewhere in the Woods.
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By Sharif on November 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Fortuna meets Martin, an unusual, awkward boy who's staying with the Baldwin sisters. There's a reason he's strange...he's really a bird. The Baldwin sisters are witches who turned two swallows and an owl into humans. They're not supposed to be doing transformations like these since they can get into big trouble with the witches' council. They ask Fortuna to help them. With a deadline looming, the witches need to turn all three humans back into birds, or else they'll stay human forever and the witches will be severely punished.

Getting involved with Martin, Fortuna befriends him. She also finds out that the other swallow is his brother and the owl was an evil bird, Arrakis, who is now an evil man who wants to hurt the brothers. In the forest, Fortuna is a witness to Martin and his brother doing amazing things. Humans can fly. Also, there are birds watching and assisting them.

This story is a magical delight. I don't care much for animal characters, but I didn't mind them in this story. Fortuna is a great main character, someone who's kind and resourceful, and the other characters are well-written too. With the threat of Arrakis and the deadline, and all the surprises to be found with the brothers, this novel was quite suspenseful. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.
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