Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2011 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Lucy Christopher
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0-545-31771-9
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Lucy Christopher doesn't waste any time in this book. A sweet scene in the first pages has 12-year-old Isla and her father up early chasing the long-necked whooping swans to the lake where they will nest; a family ritual. But the calm is shattered when the birds descend. Isla and her father see what the birds don't: wires from the new power plant. As the beautiful birds start to land, the result is grisly until the flock processes what is happening and re-routes. In this same disturbing scene it also becomes clear that Isla's father is not well.

Isla's father's illness strikes fast and is terrifying. But life, even in hospitals, goes on. Isla finds friendship in Harry, a young cancer patient, and a tender romance develops between them. Although gloom shadows the family, Isla and her brother Jack are still kids. School doesn't stop, crushes don't stop, soccer games don't stop, and the birds that Lucy Christopher writes so beautifully about, don't stop. They're majestic and resilient.

The fate of the birds parallels what is happening in this family's life as they deal with past sorrows, fresh struggles, and try, like the birds, to stay the course. It's a story about challenge, and how when it seems we can't go on, somehow we do. Christopher does a skillful job weaving those messages and themes through the natural instinct and beauty of the swans.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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