Simple Art of Flying
Cory Leonardo’s The Simple Art of Flying is the delightful story of an unlikely relationship between three lonely but fascinating characters. Twelve-year-old Fritz is a parrot-obsessed misfit, grieving over the recent loss of his beloved grandfather. Albertina Plopky is an elderly woman who spends her days dancing alone in her living room, baking pies, and writing letters to her late husband. Alastair is a bitter, self-destructive, poetry-loving African grey parrot who dreams of escaping to Florida with his sister Aggie.
The novel begins in the local pet store, where Fritz is an after-school employee, Albertina is a frequent customer, and the gray parrots Aggie and Alastair have recently hatched. There’s plenty of entertaining late-night, interspecies banter among the caged animals in the novel’s early chapters. But the story really takes flight on the fateful day when Fritz purchases Aggie and Albertina purchases Alastair, separating the two sibling birds and setting in motion a chain of events that eventually brings all four lives more closely together. One of the more inventive features of the novel is the placement of original poems, composed by the parrot Alastair, at several critical points in the narrative. Bird-themed parodies of famous works by Anne Bradstreet, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams, the poems will provide young readers with a humorous and engaging introduction to English verse. Along the way, the novel also offers valuable insights about coping with grief and disappointment, caring for people who are sick and elderly, and acting with compassion and responsibility toward pets and other animals.
David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.