by Ann Braden
Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin Random House), 2021. 229 pages.
Review written July 8, 2021, from a library book
Flight of the Puffin follows four different kids, each of them a bit of a misfit. We’re only given the locations of two of the four, and they’re on opposite sides of the country, so we’re interested in finding out how the stories will connect.
I love the beginning. Libby is painting the best sunrise ever. And as she works on it, making it colorful and beautiful, the principal steps around the corner, and we discover she’s painting on a wall of the school.
Then there’s Jack, who goes to a small two-room school in Vermont. He’s good with the younger kids, and misses his brother, who was six when he died. Next we meet T. T has a shorter chapter, sleeping on a sidewalk with their dog. The fourth person we meet is Vincent, who’s decided he wants to be like a puffin. Instead of the t-shirts his mother buys for him, he finds an old button-down white shirt with a small puffin, and that represents him. But it doesn’t make him fit in at school.
The kids are all seventh graders. They’re on opposite ends of the country. Libby’s up against her parents not appreciating her need to make art and spread joy with it. Jack is up against the school board that wants to close their school. Vincent is up against bullies. And T is up against survival.
And Flora’s art – and puffins – end up connecting them. It’s a lovely book with some threads about trans kids without that taking up the whole book. Mostly, these four kids are deeply nuanced characters it’s a delight to spend time with.
Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/flight_of_the_puffin.html
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