Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

One of the books that 'made me' such a huge fan of children's books is Sarah Plain and Tall because of the emotional impact it had on me.  There is a link, too,  between Sarah Plain and Tall and this new book - the power of singing.

When I saw a 'new' title Fly Away (2014) by Patricia MacLachlan mentioned on a list of books for our younger readers I knew I wanted to get my hands on it straight away so yesterday I traveled to a bookshop in the city.  I read the whole book straight away and it did not disappoint me.  This is a short book but it explores huge emotions in a lyrical and truthful way.

One of the connections I made with this book Fly Away was the mention of a Dutch Belted cow. We have a picture book in our library called Clancy the Courageous Cow.  Clancy is a Belted Galloway. I thought they were 'made up' for the book until I was on a bus tour in Massachusetts and the guide told us to look out the window because we were passing a farm with heritage livestock included Belted Galloways.  Sadly I did not see them that day but the following year I did see some in UK and I was very excited.  I now discover that the Dutch Belted is a milking cow and the Belted Galloway is a beef cow which comes from the cross breeding of Galloways with the Dutch Belted. Here is a Dutch Belted.

Lucy and her family need to travel across Minnesota to visit Aunt Frankie.  "She lives by a big river that floods in the rainy season.  It is now the rainy season ... "  The family consists of Lucy and her two younger siblings Grace aged six and Teddy aged two.  Mum is called Maggie and Dad is called Boots "because he wears them."  Dad is a opera and poetry fan and mum loves Langhorne Slim.  I had not heard of him but he is a real singer (see below).

Lucy and Teddy have a very special relationship. Teddy is not yet talking but Lucy knows he can sing.  Teddy calls Lucy "See" and each night just before they fall asleep Teddy sings to Lucy.  Lucy cannot sing in tune but she has other talents including writing poetry.

Here are a few quotes from the story :

"I have known for a long time that Teddy can sing perfectly in tune even though he not yet two. We all know he doesn't speak words yet. But only Teddy and I know that he sings."

"Here is my secret: I am planning to be a poet. ... When I get to be a poet Boots will be pleased. He will be proud. And one day, for him, I will write a poem as beautiful as a cow."

"Sometimes I think Teddy knows everything."

Here is a list of the music in this book :

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