Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden

A story that unfolded bit by bit as the beauty of a small act of kindness ripped outward into the world. I only wish I could create the kind of joy I found in the pages of this book.


SYNOPSIS

Libby comes from a long line of bullies. To cope, she leaves motivational postcards around town for others who might feel as belittled as she does. When she hears about a kid on the other side of the country who’s getting the bully treatment, she mails him a postcard saying: You’re amazing. 

That kid is Vincent. His plan to stop the bullying backfired in a big way, so he’s stopped going to school. But when he gets Libby’s note, he’s so moved by her gesture that he wants to help someone, too. He starts bringing food to T, who’s homeless and living on a sidewalk. T doesn’t identify as male or female, and ran away from home because their family wouldn’t accept them. As T and Vincent get to know each other, T helps build Vincent’s confidence, and inspires him to write to a kid he saw in the newspaper recently. 

That kid is Jack. He’s been petitioning to keep his small school open; it might lose funding if it doesn’t make some changes. One of them is to add a gender-neutral bathroom–making transgender students a hot-button issue at the school board meeting. Jack gets misquoted in a newspaper that Vincent reads, and Vincent sends him a letter explaining how we all need to listen better and let people be who they are. Vincent’s letter helps Jack start thinking more deeply, as does meeting Libby, who is astounded at how much change her small act of hopefulness has wrought . . . and will continue to ripple out. from The Story Graph.


MY THOUGHTS

Book blurbs matter. When I read the blurb that Amazon posted, honestly, I didn’t want to read this book. Check it out.

Libby comes from a long line of bullies. She wants to be different, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. To bolster herself, she makes a card with the message You are amazing. That card sets off a chain reaction that ends up making a difference in the lives of some kids who could also use a boost—be it from dealing with bullies, unaccepting families, or the hole that grief leaves. Receiving an encouraging message helps each kid summon up the thing they need most, whether it’s bravery, empathy, or understanding. Because it helps them realize they matter—and that they’re not flying solo anymore. from Amazon.

I don’t want to read a book about a bully! How much more do you want to read the book when you see the connection between the kids? If you are trying to get a kid to read a book about kindness, how hard will it be to convince them once they read the Amazon blurb? The Story Graph makes the whole world seemed connected and beautiful. And, makes it clear that Libby isn’t a bully even if her whole family is.

Because Libby is beautiful. And she wants to spread all of her colorful and beautiful hopes and dreams to everyone. Vincent is amazing, but invisible. Well, not invisible exactly, but the things that people notice about Vincent are not reflective of who Vincent really is insidle. Which strangely, made me feel seen. T worried me, endlessly. And I wasn’t sure what to make of Jack for so long but then, sigh, I fell in love with him as well. At their core, they are all middle school kids who are trying to navigate a world that doesn’t seem to embrace everyone. Unlike so many kids, sparked by a random act of kindness, they all reach out into the world. Unlike the majority of us that don’t know what to do so we retreat into the safety of whatever cocoon we have made.

Arguably, this book falls into the trap many other middle grade books does and gives us the best of so many people. I don’t care. I loved this book like I loved Echo. And, like Echo, there were some deep and difficult issues at play here. The death of a child, animal death, homelessness, and emotional abuse are present in the children’s lives. But their resilience is of the quality that only children seem to come by naturally. Adults have to work for it, constantly.

But, if you want to be lifted directly up to the very tip of your toes and probably cry in the process wet hot tears of joy, you will want to read this book.


Tell me, please! What is the last gorgeous story you read?


5 thoughts on “Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden

Add yours

    1. Ahaha! An invisible character would have made me happier too. I didn’t mean to but I signed up to review middle grade books instead of middle grade fantasy books. I live for those fantasy books! But I have found so many gorgeous stories so I’m not too sad. This one is going to be hard to top for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This sounds excellent and inspiring, although the mention of animal death worries me (I’m not good with animals being put into books to die and find it too upsetting; I’m OK being upset by other stuff that pushes boundaries, but no to that). I’m glad authors are thinking and talking about these things, and reviewers discussing them. You’re so right about the blurbs, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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