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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

fly away, written by Patricia MacLachlan. Simon & Schuster, 2014. $18.99 ages 6 and up

"I have known for a long time that Teddy can sing perfectly in tune even thought he is not yet two. We all know he doesn't speak words yet. But only Teddy and I know that he sings. He doesn't sing the words, but sings every song with "la la la." He sings to me every night, climbing out of his bed, padding into my room in the dark."

I love the warmth and quiet charm of Patricia  MacLachlan's writing. She pens family stories that are filled with love and heart, and always leave me wanting to read them again. I think they are a perfect for reading aloud in early years classrooms as a new year begins.

Lucy and her family make an annual trek to North Dakota to pay a visit to her Aunt Frankie's farm. When a forecast flood threatens, the family sets off quickly, despite Frankie's insistence that they not come and face the danger. As they travel, we learn about Lucy's family. They love music, and they sing beautifully. Well, everyone but Lucy. Even her little brother Teddy sings (only Lucy and Teddy know that).

 “Teddy has music but no words,” says Lucy. “I have words but no music. We are a strange pair.”

Lucy has taken up her father's earlier dream of being a poet. Lucy works hard to find the words that will say all she wants to say, and prove to her father how beautiful words can really be. In fact, she hopes to show him a poem that is as beautiful as the cows he so loves.

Their arrival coincides with the dangers of a rising river and rushing water. When that danger threatens her Teddy's life, what will the family do?

What a family they are; how lucky we are to get to know them through Lucy's clear and earnest voice. The characters are honest and true, the dialogue engaging and real, the action is paced to keep readers engaged from start to finish.

This novel invites readers into a family that is pure joy. We love every minute we spend with them.  All of the family members have their own specific gifts and quirks, they communicate effortlessly with one another, and the entire book feels like you have entered someone’s home and are having a lovely visit. MacLachlan creates dialogue that feels real, but even more so she has created characters that are alive and honest on the page.

Patricia MacLachlan is, and always has been, a faultless storyteller. We are blessed to have her stories to share with our children. Her work is worthy of study and sharing in many of our classrooms and homes.

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