Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In her first middle-grade novel, Christopher (Stolen) offers a story ribboned with metaphors involving themes of trauma, freedom, and hope. Isla and her father share a special relationship with the swans that migrate to a nearby lake each winter, until he is hospitalized with a heart condition. Isla's best friend has also moved away, and she feels isolated until meeting Harry, an optimistic and imaginative leukemia patient undergoing chemo treatments at the hospital and awaiting a bone marrow transplant. After Isla discovers a lost swan that has been separated from its flock, she makes it her mission to renew hope in Harry, her father, and herself by teaching the swan to fly, using a da Vinci-inspired flying machine that she creates with help from her estranged grandfather. Readers who share Isla's love of nature and penchant for introspection will easily gravitate to her; her determination and pithy observations make for a strong, sensitive portrait of a girl trying to make sense of difficult changes in her life, while learning to draw strength from those around her. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-8-Isla shares a love for bird-watching with her father. When they go to watch the annual arrival of the migrating wild whooper swans, her father collapses and is rushed to the hospital with a heart ailment. While visiting him, Isla gets to know Harry, a teenage cancer patient. Feeling helpless with the health issues that both her father and Harry face, Isla befriends a young lone swan. She feels that if she can help save the bird, her dad and Harry will recover. Wonderfully descriptive passages of the swans and the landscape offset the somewhat depressing hospital scenes. Set in the UK, Lucy Christopher's novel (2011) is narrated by Harriet Carmichael, who has a very strong English accent, but handles all the voices competently. Her enthusiastic tones perfectly capture Isla's teenage frustration. Frequently used English terms such as jumper (for sweater), trainers (sneakers), and boot (trunk of a car) may confuse listeners. This beautifully written story may just be nominated for some of this year's book awards, as was Christopher's previous novel, Stolen (2010, both Chicken House), a Printz Honor Award winner.-Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NC (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Like her father and grandfather, 13-year-old Isla seems to have a mystical connection, as well as emotional bond, with the swans that migrate to their area each winter. But after her dad collapses during a birding expedition, Isla's focus abruptly shifts from the nature preserve to the hospital's coronary care unit. Though worried about her father, she finds solace in her deepening friendship with Harry, a boy who has leukemia; in her bond with a lone whooper swan nearby; and in an unusual school project that takes on a life of its own. Christopher, who wrote the Printz Honor Book Stolen (2010), offers younger readers a quiet but compelling story with several well-realized, idiosyncratic characters. She skillfully develops the novel's varied elements and weaves them into a unified narrative that occasionally falls into a predictable pattern only to surprise the reader once again. As narrator, Isla conveys with equal sensitivity her discomfort in the initially alien hospital environment, her growing understanding of family history, and her realizations about herself and those she loves. Though written for a slightly older audience, this sensitive novel will resonate with many readers who enjoyed Gill Lewis' Wild Wings (2011).--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Isla's annual winter ritual of watching for the whooper swans is interrupted by her father's heart attack. During her anxiety-filled hospital visits she befriends Harry, a boy with cancer. Isla comes through a difficult time as she tries to encourage a lone injured swan to fly while providing Harry with some distracting intrigue. A sad, leisurely paced story filled with metaphor-rich imagery. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
(Fiction. 10-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.