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The Girl Who Could Fly Hardcover – June 24, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 232 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—Somewhere in the U.S., in a small farming community called Lowland County, a girl named Piper McCloud is born to a simple, God-fearing farmer and his wife. Piper has a special talent: she can fly. What follows is an uneasy mix of fantasy and science fiction that has plot points that are fairly derivative. When her talent for flying is discovered, a charismatic director of a special school takes Piper under her wing. She arrives at an amazing place with multiple floors and discovers a lot of other kids with extraordinary powers, too—as well as a nefarious plot to remove their special talents by altering their DNA. Character development is achieved by the author telling, not showing, readers, and speech patterns are not always successful. Piper's rural, colloquial manner of speech seems out of place in a time period that appears to be present day and borders on caricature, especially when she utters phrases such as, "Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!" The writing style is clunky, and the author strives to be clever with wordplay. For example, the evil director of the school is named Dr. Letitia Hellion, and the German professor, whose accent is almost unintelligible, is named Dr. Mumbley. The acronym for the school, or institute, is I.N.S.A.N.E. (Institute of Normalcy, Stability, and NonExceptionality). The book ends with the kids taking over the school, and the affirmation of everyone's differences, and everyone's right to "be themselves." Libraries looking for engaging fantasy will want to look elsewhere.—Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this terrific debut novel, readers meet Piper McCloud, the late-in-life daughter of farmers. Her parents revel in conformity, so it’s disconcerting at best when Piper shows a talent for flying. Homeschooled and kept away from outsiders, Piper is lonely. Finally, her parents let her go to a community picnic, where she thinks she’ll meet new friends. Instead, she terrifies the neighbors by flying up to catch a ball during a kids’ game. In no time, the McCloud farm is besieged. Then, out of a helicopter comes the empathetic Dr. Letitia Hellion, who whisks Piper off to a secret school for kids with special talents. But are things there what they seem to be? No. Forester gets almost everything right here. The story soars, just like Piper, with enough loop-de-loops to keep kids uncertain about what will come next. Her plainspoken heroine has a big heart and a strong streak of defiance, and Piper’s reactions always seem true, even in the midst of sf machinations. Many other characters are also clearly set within the context of their lives, giving them dimension sometimes lacking in supporting casts. Best of all are the book’s strong, lightly wrapped messages about friendship and authenticity and the difference between doing well and doing good. Give this to fans of Trenton Lee Stuart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society (2007). Grades 4-7. --Ilene Cooper

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312374623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312374624
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.

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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
I just recently bought a book for my son (9 years) to read. The title is "The Girl Who Could Fly" by Victoria Forester. I choose the book because I got curious by the book cover and the description of the story in the back of the book. My son likes those kind of stories.

He just finished the book a couple of days ago and when I asked him how he liked it he was nervous about telling me that one of the main characters died by suicide at the end of the story. I started to worry and read the passages myself (starting at page 305). I was shocked how detailed the suicide is described. Especially the expression that that there is no way to help someone who wants to die...

I am very disappointed and upset that I made my son read this children's book. This is not acceptable for a children's book that age! The book is graded to be a book for grades 5/6.

The grading for this book has to be changed to a much older group of children.
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