Tag Archives: children’s book

Mommy/daughter review of Charlie Sparrow and the Book of Flight, by D. F. Anderson

I won a copy of Charlie Sparrow and the Book of Flight, by D. F. Anderson and Daniel McCloskey, through Goodreads. Since it’s middle-grade fiction, my daughter and I chose to do a mommy/daughter read of it.

Charlie Sparrow is the only bird in Tree City who can fly, but Mayor Peck insists he’s faking it. When Charlie learns of a book proving the truth about flight, he leaves Tree City to find it, facing a sharp-beaked thug and a den of mythical bird-eating creatures with claws and whiskers. With the help of his friends, Charlie discovers deeply held secrets about the mayor that must be exposed for the citizens of Tree City to wake up to their birthright—flight.

Daughter’s Review:
I really liked it, it was cute. I love how determined Charlie was. It was a good lesson. I liked the part where he became friends with the cat. I’m ten-years-old and I could read it pretty quickly. I think it would be better for kids a little younger than me, but I drew a picture of it.

My Review:
I often find reviewing children’s books more difficult that reviewing adult books. It’s hard to let go of adult expectations and accept books the way a child will. My daughter didn’t wonder how these anthropomorphized birds developed cameras, but didn’t understand the mechanics of flight. She didn’t ponder the Book of Flight’s origins, or if the birds in the rest of the world could fly (and if so, why they never happened to fly by Tree City). She was able and happily willing to simply accept the story as presented, even the bits that don’t make sense. Because they don’t have to for a child.

This book is intended for children between 6 and 9. For that age range it works. For a 40-year-old, maybe not so much. But what does that matter? It’s clean, easily readable and full of enough pictures to support the story, without cluttering the narrative. It’s book two in the series, but stands alone. We’d obviously missed out on how Charlie learned to fly and some of the history, but nothing that impeded the enjoyment of the story in any way. All in all, my children liked it and that’s all that really mattered.

Review of The Bicycle Spy, by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Last year I won a copy of Liberty, by Kirby Larson. When it arrived in the mail, this book, Yona McDonough‘s The Bicycle Spy was mysteriously included. I figured it was a surprise gift or extra bonus or promo or maybe someone somewhere’s mistake. But there it was either way.

Description from Goodreads:
Marcel loves riding his bicycle, whether he’s racing through the streets of his small town in France or making bread deliveries for his parents’ bakery. He dreams of someday competing in the Tour de France, the greatest bicycle race. But ever since Germany’s occupation of France began two years ago, in 1940, the race has been canceled. Now there are soldiers everywhere, interrupting Marcel’s rides with checkpoints and questioning.

Then Marcel learns two big secrets, and he realizes there are worse things about the war than a canceled race. When he later discovers that his friend’s entire family is in imminent danger, Marcel knows he can help — but it will involve taking a risky bicycle ride to pass along covert information. And when nothing ends up going according to plan, it’s up to him to keep pedaling and think quickly… because his friend, her family, and his own future hang in the balance.

Now, this is written for 3rd to 7th graders, according to the info page in the front of the book. So, I’m hardly the target demographic, being almost 40 and all. But I want to give it to my 9yo and be able to discuss it with her, so I went ahead and read it too. The writing is appropriately simple and it trims some very thick themes into fairly thin ideas, such that a child can grasp it.

I do think it shies away from really engaging the subject matter. Because of this I think they’d need a little knowledge of WWII to really understand it. A lot is explained, but I still feel a minimal base knowledge would be needed or at least appreciated. But Marcel is a sweet character and his story is interesting enough, though again fairly simplistic. I think a 3rd to 7th grader would likely enjoy the book. I’m hoping mine will, especially given the state of the world at this moment.

What I’m drinking: Green matcha, which I’ve had several times in cafes/restaurants. This was the first time I tried making it at home though, and I’d call it a moderate success.