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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
My thirteen-year-old started reading later than (used to be) average. I've been trying to find him books that catch his attention so much he can't stop reading. And if they also make him talk or ask questions about the book, so much the better.

The Girl Who Could Fly was perfect for this.

It is more science fiction than fantasy. The "girl" of the title is a rural child born late and unexpectedly to her parents. They are themselves strict conformists in their community and abashed at what they have given birth to, an otherwise lovely child who can, well, ahem, uh, ... fly. So they tell her to hide her ability so their neighbors won't talk. This part of the book is truly funny and I found myself reading sections of it aloud to my wife.

(It is especially nice how easy it is to read this book aloud. The language flows and makes the reader think that the author had it in mind that the book would be read aloud.)

After the first few chapters lay the background, there is a slightly awkward transition that changes the book's nature from fantasy to sci-fi. The government steps in and takes the girl away to a special "school". This is not a new idea for most juveniles today; and everyone will expect what happens next as the girl arrives at the not-as-benevolent-as-it-was-described center for people like her.

But this familiarity is not damaging. All stories have been told a thousand times; it is the telling that matters. And here the author does not fail us at all. We learn the hearts of all the characters; and we learn it in ways that constantly provoke insightful questions.

One reviewer quoted:

I shared the same pleasure that reviewer had in the passage. What makes it truly special, though, is that it makes the attentive reader ask himself a question: "Is that how it really is? Is that what I do?"

In fact, from beginning to end, such questions arise. They come about naturally and without being threatening; but they lead to personal insight ... and great discussions between parent and child.

This is a wonderful book. What I find ironic is that what makes it wonderful is the very thing that made the reviewer for the ALA dislike it. She thought the book "told" too much rather than showing it; but what we are told is the interior confusion and complexity often masked by words and action. What comes out is usually a disguise for what happens within. Perhaps for mature readers, such subtleties are more easily unraveled; perhaps, not. But for new readers (and even readers like myself) there is a delightful sense of discovery and rightness with each new chapter.

By the way, if you read and enjoy this book (as did my son), other books I'd recommend for you and your children would be:

The Gregor the Overlander series and The Hunger Games series, both by Suzanne Collins.

The Airborn series and the Silverwing series and anything else by Kenneth Oppel.

Any of the teen-level books by Cornelia Funke.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2008
For Piper McCloud, learning to fly was the easy part. The real challenge is making friends, staying true to her principles, and surviving an educational system that is literally INSANE. Along the way she must deal with operatic crickets, lead a rebellion of other super-powered students, and protect her naturally buoyant spirit from the dreaded Dr. Hellion.

This is a most extraordinary book, full of adventure, unapologetically eccentric and unashamedly hopeful. Its heroine, Piper McCloud, wants to use her special ability to help people -- unfortunately for her, the reality of a flying girl is more than drab Lowland County can handle. When Piper's whisked away to a self-proclaimed school for other super-skilled children, she thinks she's going to learn how to fly like a pro. Too late, she discovers the school's true agenda: to stamp out all traces of specialness in the sacred name of Normality.

The author tells her story with a sense of whimsy that is upbeat but also wised-up: Piper is a natural optimist, yet she also pays a price for her eagerness. The humor is balanced with plenty of drama and occasional touches of sadness (the singing cricket is an affecting scene stealer), and characters you'll start missing as soon as you turn the last page. It's a great book for lovers of Madeleine L'Engle and C.S. Lewis. Though it never leaves our world, it gives you the kind of magic you can believe in.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2013
The biggest thing that bothered me about this book is how deceptive the cover is. It's described as a cross between Little House on the Prairie and X Men. It's described as uplifting and it's marketed to children as having a message that being different is ok. All these things along with the title and glowing reviews enticed my 8 yr old daughter to buy the book. I picked it up before she read it because it sounded like such an interesting read.This book is in no way acceptable for children to read. I am a firm believer in not censoring books, but this book should not be marketed to children. It starts out like a children's book and seems pretty interesting until you get to the middle and the children are being tortured. Detailed scenes depicting torture of children as they call out for their parents and for help. Also they are held down and forcefully injected drugs by their trusted teachers. Very graphic, disturbing and not well written. This book should be marketed to teens or adults and state on the cover *contains graphic scenes of torture to children. That way you know what you're getting.
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44 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2008
I HIGHLY recommend this book!

I am a big fan of reading that one
might consider me a read-aholic.
Some of my all time favorite kids
books have been Anne of Green Gables,
Because of Winn Dixie, A Wrinkle in
Time and the Harry Potter Series.

The Girl Who Could Fly is a must read for
everyone who likes real life meets fantasy
books. Like Anne of Green Gables,The Girl
Who Could Fly begins in an endearing small
town farm community and suddenly takes you
into a fantasy world like Harry Potter.

With each chapter you are given a very well
written and detailed look into a fascinating
world never yet described in any other book
or film. The story sucks you in and you find
yourself not wanting to put the book down.

I just fell in love with Piper's kind heart,
sense of justice, passion and curiosity. And
as I read on, I also fell in love with many
of the other characters like Bella, Jasper,
Lily and yes, even Conrad.

Like Conrad, at times each one of us believes
that we are justified in doing what we do....even
if what we choose is at someone else's expense.

One of my favorite descriptions of Conrad from
the book is,


There are so many wonderful twists and turns, funny
and heartfelt moments and great life lessons that
the story and characters still touch me deeply
or make me laugh when I think about the book
from time to time.

I recommend you buy the book and tell all your friends!
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
The author started out with a fun premise - a girl who could fly. I found Piper a delightful and fun character. I read this book because it was required reading for my nine year old grandson. It was bad enough when the kids were betting ($10 - $50) on what the reaction would be for the "new" kid who came to the I.S.A.N.E school, but when parents never questioned why they had no contact with their children and the place was run like a prison - I began to question this author. The very worst part came when the children had their food laced with chemicals to change them slowly. Then they were given drugs and the very worst was the torture, an actual prolonged torture. Is this appropriate for a nine year old to read? I would not recommend any child read this book. The author needs to examine why she would even write such a book, and then why did a publisher, publish? There are too many wonderful things in this world to write about - especially for children.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2010
I love to read. This book is terrific. I devoured it in three hours and couldn't put it down. This book was about friendship and was so very sweet. Everyone should read it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2015
Other reviewers have already gone into detail. I'm just here to back them up. This book has horrible torture scenes. With so many wonderful children's books why would anyone bother with this? Probably because it's, unfortunately, a great title and great cover. There's no need for children to read detailed descriptions of adults physically torturing kids. The book lacks redemptive humor-- which might have saved it and cast it in a different light. Nope. No humor here. Just torture. Stick with Roald Dahl. You can't go wrong.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2013
This book is by far one of the worst books that I have ever purchased. There is no character development, massive stereotyping and is filled with awkward sentence structures. My 7 year old daughter loves adventure and wizardry books, but this book is lacking in so many ways. It is tough to get through all of the superfluous language mixed with inane names such as "Bo Bo, June Jane, Millie Mae Miller and Jimmy Joe". Try to read Chapter 3 aloud...
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2009
I was initially introduced to The Girl Who Could Fly through Stephenie Meyer's Web site. Since the last book Ms. Meyer recommended was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- probably my favorite book of 2008 -- I quickly tracked down her new recommendation. Even the book's front cover carries Meyer's review, so the book's intended audience is pretty obvious.

In her review, Meyer calls The Girl Who Could Fly "the sweetest/oddest mix of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men." I can see where she's coming from. The author does some interesting things that are surprising, and the book really was nothing like I expected it to be.

The first interesting point is the lack of a defined point in time for the story -- or at least, the author's shrouding of the point in time. The title character, Piper McCloud, is a home-schooled farm girl raised by no-nonsense, but loving, parents. She's a chatterbox with big ideas and dreams that extend well beyond her hum-drum reality of chores and isolation. I assumed from the first five or so chapters that the book took place during pioneer days -- until Piper reveals her gift at a town event, and the helicopters and parade of black SUVs sweep in....

Piper is taken to a special institution for gifted kids like her. In time, it becomes clear that the seemingly well meaning instructors and staff don't want the children to learn to harness their talents -- they want to coerce them into being normal and like everyone else. They're also housing other extraordinary creatures, like a luminescent giraffe and a cricket that sings opera, that they're trying to "rehabilitate" through genetic modification and drugs. They try to convince Piper that her flying hurts the people she loves. When that fails, they use other means to keep her from flying...

This was a cute story. The author has a lot of fun with the names she chooses for her characters, and it's written at a very age appropriate tone and level for young adults. It's squeaky clean and has a great message about celebrating differences and the importance of never giving up. I don't think it transfers quite as well to an adult audience as some other "hot" YA books, but its a unique story that is definitely memorable.
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27 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2011
I wish I read all the negative reviews before letting my daughter read this book. She seemed to be OK with it until Chapter 16. I walked into her room where she was reading, and my 9 year old was crying. There is a torture scene where the kids are injected some kind of drugs. She was so frightened, she could not sleep and kept crying. And she was OK with all seven Harry Potter books. I would not recommend it to the kids in the age range the book is advertised.
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