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Fly Free! Hardcover – January 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3—A Vietnamese girl feeds caged birds outside a Buddhist temple, beginning a cycle of good deeds continued by the townspeople, including a girl who gives away her red-velvet shoes, before circling back to the birds. Although written to illustrate the Buddhist philosophy of karma, the lesson of this simple story, that helping others is helpful to you, is universal. The muted and warm watercolor-on-board illustrations glow with gold, orange, red, and brown tones, although the girls' unnaturally pink cheeks and lips give them a jarringly clownish look. One of the characters is a monk but the only explicit religious message is found in an author's note that explains karma, nirvana, and samsara (the wheel of life). The arresting cover illustration of a child holding her hands in the air as birds fly into the distance foreshadows the story's conclusion. That dramatic image will immediately engage readers in wondering how the birds will be freed. The slight story serves primarily as a framework for the lesson but the approach is gentle and nonjudgmental.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mai regularly visits the caged sparrows outside a Buddhist temple in Vietnam. She wishes to free the birds—releasing them after a payment is a good deed and the Buddhist way— but she cannot afford to do so. Instead, she invites Thu to join her in feeding them, whispering Fly free, fly free in the sky so blue. When you do a good deed it will come back to you. Thu, in turn, repeats the mantra when she gives her red velvet slippers to a girl with a foot injury. The injured girl acts kindly to another, and the chain of compassionate actions eventually leads a stranger to pay for the sparrows’ release. When the birds fly free and Mai exclaims, Fly free, fly free . . . , children will complete the refrain. The succinct, restrained parable introduces Buddhist ideas and a moral viewpoint that transcends religion. Sunny, serene watercolor illustrations match the gentle tone and message. A solid choice for multicultural units, this also demonstrates the value of kindness. Preschool-Grade 3. --Linda Perkins
Top customer reviews
Make World Kindness Day be everyday!
I often receive items for reviewing purposes, but this was bought and reviewed on my own. Highly recommended!!
"Fly fee, fly free,
in the sky so blue.
When you do a good deed,
it will come back to you."
This book teaches not only karma but about the Christian concepts of charity and kindness. Children and adults will do well to be reminded that it is important to practice "random acts of kindness" and that this behavior will be rewarded, eventually, in some way. Creating a culture of kindness has never been needed more than it is today. The author states that these acts are "A wheel of kindness existed in people's hearts." I would agree that we need to cultivate these "wheels of kindness" and this book does a great job at pointing this out.
Economic concepts are subtly integrated into the story, with scenes involving a marketplace and different kinds of vendors. With its rural Vietnamese setting, this book provides a nice opportunity to introduce children to ways of life in another country.