Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh

flying lessons.jpgWhether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

240 pages

Published January 3rd 2017

Should Read – 4 stars

Read from 17th to 19th February

So I’m not really one for anthologies and I don’t know why this one interested me so much but it did and sometimes you just pick things up.

I decided that I’ll write my reviews of each book after I read each short story rather than trying to remember them all. I’ll try and do a wrap up of the entire book for those that aren’t interested in each story down at the bottom.

How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt De La Peña

So this was a nice opening story, it was simple, short and sweet. It wasn’t heavy but instead just too a simple topic – basketball- and one guys version of it. It feels like that question “What would you say to your prior self” and I actually love seeing that question answered whether fiction or not. I really liked the writing; it was so casual and relatable. I don’t know how I would feel about it if it was a whole novel but it really worked for this.

p.s. the title was pretty cool as well.

The Difficult Path by Grace Lin

So this was a rather simple and to the point story about a girl that was sold as a servant but only upon the agreement that she would be taught to read. I didn’t really see where the story was going but it sort of formed around pirates and it was just rather plain. There wasn’t really a meaning it just felt more like a tale and about the value of reading and having a skill that others do not possess.

Sol Painting Inc. by Meg Medina

So I liked this one for the message it tells. It shows how due to your prejudice that you behave different depending on situations. I also like how it shows that parents will act differently than you expect and that kids will not always understand it but that sometimes adults have to be stronger in those situations. I love learning about different cultures but I’m so sick of them being done in a forcible way to prove a point. I think the best way is to be honest and this felt like the most honest. I really also loved the Spanish words used.

Secret Samantha by Tim Federle

So this is just a really cute story about a new friendship. The only problem I had with it was the age of the kids. I really struggle with the education systems that aren’t my own, I just don’t understand what grade relates to what age. I kind of hate when authors do that because they basically exclude all readers that aren’t from that area, I just think it’s so insolent. I think that’s why I’ve not been reading books set in America recently because it just feels so foreign to me. I know it seems like such a stupid thing but I really prefer a European culture.

The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist

 I think this was the saddest topic that I had read so far but I really liked the style. I liked how the language was used to create an atmosphere and show the relationships between the characters. Even though you don’t get the full story it’s a really good snippet and in all honesty it made me want a full and explored novel because it was such a good writing style as well as having a good basis for depth. Was one of my favourites.

Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle

So this was kind of boring. It was nice to see a completely different culture that I have never been able to interact with in life but I didn’t really see the point in it. It was just like telling a child a story and I understand that it’s important in Choctaw culture but there wasn’t really enough of it.

Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson

So this was a really simple story of a young girl dealing with the loss of a friend who helped her through the loss of a mother. She meets a new girl who is black when everyone around is white. I really like the way it is written. It’s a really enjoyable style and it flows so nice and due to the breaks it created the right atmosphere and pace.

Flying Lessons by Soman Chainani

So this is the namesake of the book and it’s interesting. It’s one of the only authors that I had heard of but never read a book by. I liked how it was written and the subtle meaning behind it. The story was interesting enough but you sort of felt bad for Santosh both because he seems so isolated but also because people decide how he has to be for him to be ‘happy’ and that’s something that has always bugged me. People think that you can only be happy if you do things that they like.

Seventy-Six Dollar and Forty Nine Cents: A Story in Verse by Kwame Alexander

I enjoyed this enough but I liked how the title isn’t revealed to the end. It was a sort of odd story but nice enough. The constant chapter changes did my box in but.

Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push by Walter Dean Myers

I really liked this, it was pretty simple but I think it was a great ending story. There’s not much else to say.

Wrap Up

So overall this was a really fun and great read for me. IT’s so different to what I normally read that I enjoyed the change. I flew through it and there were only one or two stories I didn’t like. My only criticism is that is that it was very focussed on race and that was tied to economic situations. I would have preferred a little bit more variety especially when it’s advertised as “We Need Diverse Books” but I do think that this is a good idea. My favourites were The Difficult Path, Sol Paining Inc. and The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn. I don’t know if I will pick up any books by these authors due to my current reading habits but I now have 10 new authors that I will be on the lookout for especially in the library.

Do you have any anthology recommendations?

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