Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Fly Away

Fly Away

Patricia MacLachlan
For ages 7 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2014   ISBN: 978-1442460089

Every year Lucy and her family drive to North Dakota to spend part of the summer with Aunt Frankie. This year in particular Lucy’s father, Boots, feels that they need to be there because the rainy season has been very wet, which means that the river will be well over its banks. Aunt Frankie will need help safeguarding her home and her possessions from the water.

    Almost everyone in Lucy’s family has something that they do well. Boots is a poet, though he set aside his pen when he decided that he loved caring for cows more than he cared to write down words. Lucy’s sister Gracie is a wonderful artist and she sings well too. Lucy herself cannot sing at all but she loves to write poetry and hopes to become a poet one day. What no one, other than Lucy knows is that little two-year-old Teddy is a superb singer. Everyone knows that Teddy does not care to speak, but they don’t know is that Teddy can carry a perfect tune. Every night Teddy comes to Lucy’s room and he sings a wordless song for her. This time together is their precious secret, and it has strengthened the already strong bond that they share.

   Two things happen on their trip as they make their way across the open country. Teddy says his first word, which is, not surprisingly, “cow.” Then it starts to rain. Heavily. Aunt Frankie tells Boots to turn around the go home, but they all agree that they should keep going because Aunt Frankie is going to need them, even if she thinks that she isn’t.

   Sure enough, in the middle of their first night at Aunt Frankie’s house, it starts to rain again and the water level rises. Lucy, Boots, Auntie Frankie and other folk work hard to move Aunt Frankie’s store of grain to higher ground, and they put sandbags in front of the porch, though everyone knows that that water is going to probably go right over them.

   In the morning the porch steps are gone and the “Water sits even with the porch floor.” The good news is that the rain has stopped. It looks as if the worst is past, but another danger lies ahead that none of them could have predicted.

   In this incredibly rich and powerful story, Patricia MacLachlan explores the incredible bonds that connect members of a family. When Aunt Frankie needs them, Lucy and her family (and their chickens) drive for hundreds of miles to help out. When Teddy needs to be comforted, Lucy, who cannot sing, finds a way to sing anyway. When Lucy’s mother needs to reassured that she is loved and needed, Teddy, the boy who does not speak, speaks.

   With a narrative that is touched with humor and poignancy, this beautifully written story will touch readers of all ages.