The Simple Art of Flying
Quirky characters, plucky humor, and a heartwarming message come together in this big-hearted debut novel about friendship and the true meaning of family.Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground…Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land.In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.

The Simple Art of Flying Details

TitleThe Simple Art of Flying
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 12th, 2019
PublisherAladdin
ISBN-139781534420991
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Animals, Juvenile

The Simple Art of Flying Review

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    January 1, 1970
    A grumpy African grey parrot who plucks his feathers. A twelve-year-old boy who longs to become a doctor and who has recently lost both his grandfather and his father. An elderly woman who loves to dance and bake pies and who writes letters to her dead husband.Are there any three characters in fiction less likely than these to appear together in a children's story? Are there any three characters less likely to develop a relationship with each other? Are there any three characters less likely to A grumpy African grey parrot who plucks his feathers. A twelve-year-old boy who longs to become a doctor and who has recently lost both his grandfather and his father. An elderly woman who loves to dance and bake pies and who writes letters to her dead husband.Are there any three characters in fiction less likely than these to appear together in a children's story? Are there any three characters less likely to develop a relationship with each other? Are there any three characters less likely to have a happily-ever-after ending?It took me a while to warm up to Alastair (the African grey), Fritz (the boy), and Aggie (the elderly woman), but but, as soon as I did, I fell in love with them all. Each has strong drives: Alastair wants to free himself and his sister from their dismal life in a gloomy pet store and fly away to live in a palm tree. Fritz wants to become a medical doctor and he is working at the pet store to save up enough money to buy a parrot. Aggie is deeply lonely after her husband dies and her only son moves away, and she longs for a pet that will be good company for her.The story is told from all three points of view (Aggie, Fritz, and Alastair), and it's told through three different genres (Aggie writes letters to her dead husband, Fritz writes journal entries, and Alastair writes poetry). It's a rich story, with deeply flawed characters who (yes, even the parrot) are decidedly human. You won't find a fresher approach to a children's book this year.
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  • Theresa Grissom
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Edelweiss Plus for an ARC of this book!I really, really loved this one. Every single character, whether human or animal is so lovable each with a distinct personality. I found myself laughing, smiling and slightly tearing up during this book. Very cleverly written to be enjoyed by people of all ages. I can see both kids and adults liking this one. It's going to be hard to wait for the hardcopy because I want to talk this one up so badly. This one went on my favorites shelf.
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  • Nicole Hewitt
    January 1, 1970
    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction AddictionThis is the story of a grumpy parrot who wants nothing more than to escape captivity with his sister and bring her out into the wild world where he's sure they'll both be better off. Alastair is endearing, even though he's a cantankerous curmudgeon--mostly because his heart is in the right place. He's spent his whole life trying to protect his sister, and you can't help but empathize with him, even when you think he's This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction AddictionThis is the story of a grumpy parrot who wants nothing more than to escape captivity with his sister and bring her out into the wild world where he's sure they'll both be better off. Alastair is endearing, even though he's a cantankerous curmudgeon--mostly because his heart is in the right place. He's spent his whole life trying to protect his sister, and you can't help but empathize with him, even when you think he's going about things all wrong. The story features some delightfully zany characters (both human and animal)--my absolute favorite by far is Bertie, the elderly woman who ends up adopting Alastair. And I enjoyed Alastair's poetry, which is mostly based off of reimagined classic poems. The pacing in the middle felt a tiny bit slow, but the fabulous ending was worth it, and I appreciated the central messages of finding happiness in your current circumstances (even when they aren't what you planned) and finding people who care about you in unexpected places. Overall, a wonderful middle grade read!***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
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  • Resch Reads
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 STARSThree words to describe this book, quirky, whimsical, and playful. What an awesome debut novel with a refreshing and unique narrative. The story is told from several view points, mainly Alastair (the parrot), letters Bertie is writing to here deceased husband, and Fritz's medical journal. Now it took me a bit to get used to seeing things from a parrots perspective but once I got into the story, it flew by (pun intended)!Alastair goes a crazy journey over the course of the book. From end 3.5 STARSThree words to describe this book, quirky, whimsical, and playful. What an awesome debut novel with a refreshing and unique narrative. The story is told from several view points, mainly Alastair (the parrot), letters Bertie is writing to here deceased husband, and Fritz's medical journal. Now it took me a bit to get used to seeing things from a parrots perspective but once I got into the story, it flew by (pun intended)!Alastair goes a crazy journey over the course of the book. From endlessly searching for his sister to plotting numerous escapes, he was constantly struggling. But over the course of all these adventures, he realizes that maybe the grass isn't greener on the other side. And maybe, just maybe he ended up where he should have been all along. Also, to truly love someone, you have to realize what's best for them...even if its letting them go.I think this will resonate with the middle grade genre. You hear about bullying, friendships, the healing powers of pets, divorced parents and the mark they leave; the book is so much more than a crazy African grey parrot on a journey of self discovery. The ending took me by surprise but I will say, it left a big cheesy grin on my face.I think my only grievance is I wish the selected poetry was targeted towards that age genre as well. There are a lot of old, deceased, classic poetry rewrites from Alastair's perspective and it made me sad that this didn't carry the light, whimsical feel that the rest of the book did. I would have loved to see Alastair's take on Shel Silverstein and others who children and young teens are more likely to be familiar with and understand. Otherwise I am looking forward to see what Cory Leonardo comes out with next!
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  • Lana
    January 1, 1970
    In the description of The Simple Art of Flying it said perfect for fans of The One and Only Ivan! Hmmm, I wasnt sure I believed it, since that was an amazing story, but it’s true. This is an adorable tale of family, friendship, gratitude and growing up. Alastair and Aggie are sibling parrots born in a pet store. Alastair is always thinking up plans for their escape, since he’s always looking toward a bigger and better life. Aggie just seems to go along with whatever her brother says is best.But In the description of The Simple Art of Flying it said perfect for fans of The One and Only Ivan! Hmmm, I wasnt sure I believed it, since that was an amazing story, but it’s true. This is an adorable tale of family, friendship, gratitude and growing up. Alastair and Aggie are sibling parrots born in a pet store. Alastair is always thinking up plans for their escape, since he’s always looking toward a bigger and better life. Aggie just seems to go along with whatever her brother says is best.But Alastair’s plans don’t turn out exactly as he hoped for him or his sister, and it’s at his lowest point that Allistair is able to see things much clearer. I love Alastair! ❤️This is a wonderful middle grade book that children will love! I’m guessing kids everywhere will be begging for a pet bird after reading this story! It’s almost enough to make me want one, and we already have dogs, a cat and two rats! Thank you to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for this wonderful advanced copy, in exchange for my honest review. This will appear on my blog Friday, February 8, [email protected]
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    When I saw this book at The Strand, I knew I couldn't pass it up. First off, there are parrots on the cover, and second off, doesn't it just sound so sweet? But even though I may have been drawn in by the sweetness, there's still a lot of grit in The Simple Art of Flying. At the heart of this book is the relationship between Alastair and his sister Aggie and this relationship is full of a lot of tough topics like the fact that they're not regularly fed in the pet store. So while it's Alastair's When I saw this book at The Strand, I knew I couldn't pass it up. First off, there are parrots on the cover, and second off, doesn't it just sound so sweet? But even though I may have been drawn in by the sweetness, there's still a lot of grit in The Simple Art of Flying. At the heart of this book is the relationship between Alastair and his sister Aggie and this relationship is full of a lot of tough topics like the fact that they're not regularly fed in the pet store. So while it's Alastair's POV, it's also Fritz's perspective, the little boy who ends up adopting Aggie, and Albertina, the one who takes in Alastair. Through their perspectives we are able to see snippets of their lives.The way Fritz can never seem to connect with his dad. Or the mystery of who Everett is to Albertina. While the animal perspective definitely hooked me into this story, there's so much more than meets the eyes through these other people in the story. It's almost looking at Alastair as a focal point and all the people he encounters. The Simple Art of Flying is full of mistakes, flawed people (and parrots), friendship, and needing to see beyond what's in front of us.
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  • Jessica *The Lovely Books*
    January 1, 1970
    The Simple Art of Flying has got to be the cutest and funniest books I’ve read in a very long time. That’s not an exaggeration either—the main characters are birds who are just so misunderstood. Especially Alastair. He deeply cares for his sister, Aggie. She’s sweet and grounds her grumpy brother. Then there’s Fritz and Bertie who I equally loved. Both really brought the story to life. Fritz is the twelve year old boy that ends up buying Aggie. While Bertie is the one who gets Alastair. All our The Simple Art of Flying has got to be the cutest and funniest books I’ve read in a very long time. That’s not an exaggeration either—the main characters are birds who are just so misunderstood. Especially Alastair. He deeply cares for his sister, Aggie. She’s sweet and grounds her grumpy brother. Then there’s Fritz and Bertie who I equally loved. Both really brought the story to life. Fritz is the twelve year old boy that ends up buying Aggie. While Bertie is the one who gets Alastair. All our broody bird wants is to get back to his sister. The shenanigans and adventure we’re taken on is both endearing and amazing. I adored this story like no other. It’s a melt your heart and dance like no one is watching type of book. You know the kind—quirky and makes you feel so good! The characters make this reading experience so much better than I could have ever imagined. I look forward to reading more from Leonardo. *Thank you to the publisher for providing a free copy for an honest an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    This charming middle grade story, told in three voices, is overflowing with fun and quirky characters. We first meet Alastair, an African Grey Parrot, as he is fights to break out of his shell. His strength and determination are apparent from his very first moment of life. His ultimate goal in life is to escape the pet shop, find freedom for his sister and himself and to live in Key West. Next, almost 12 year old Fritz shares his story. We learn he will fiercely fight to care for, and to protect This charming middle grade story, told in three voices, is overflowing with fun and quirky characters. We first meet Alastair, an African Grey Parrot, as he is fights to break out of his shell. His strength and determination are apparent from his very first moment of life. His ultimate goal in life is to escape the pet shop, find freedom for his sister and himself and to live in Key West. Next, almost 12 year old Fritz shares his story. We learn he will fiercely fight to care for, and to protect, any animal or human being. He’s obsessed with all things medical, dreams of becoming a doctor and keeps a “Official Medical Log”, where he records his personal health statistics. He constantly searches for the courage to be himself, as he works toward his goals. And finally there is Albertina Plorky, perhaps my favorite of all. This 80 year old woman strives to happily dance through life, even though she is grieving her husband who passed away and for her son who has moved halfway across the country. I loved her positive outlook, her kindness, her gentleness and the support and understanding she has for both Alastair and Fritz. Even the minor characters of Fritz’s sister, Fiona, and his mom were delightful. Fiona gave Fritz lots of love and understanding, and Mom, even though she was working multiple jobs, gave both Fritz and Fiona much support and acceptance despite their quirkiness. So many of you will love this book. The animal lovers will love seeing the world through Alastair’s eyes. Middle grade kids, who may be feeling they are a little quirky, will find assurance they can succeed in the world, despite being a bit different than their peers. And finally, anyone simply looking for a good story with lots of smiles and lots of heart, this is a book for you. It will be released 2.12.19. Be sure it’s on your list to arrive on publication day. It’s a winner!
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  • Rajani LaRocca
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book. It is a beautifully written, lyrical, poignant book that offers the best of middle grade: humor and heart. I fell in love with cranky Alastair, sweet Aggie, nerdy Fritz, and irrepressible Bertie. This book is about pursuing your dreams, and knowing when to let them go because what you've always wanted is what you already have. Read it for the story, and prepare to be floored by the poetry. Can't wait until my hardcover copy arrives!
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  • Amanda Rawson Hill
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the cleverest, most beautiful books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I used to think it was a mix of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN and FLORA AND ULYSSES. But I've changed my mind. It's THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN meets BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE and THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE. I love it so much. Fouryh time reading it, still cried.
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  • Gmr
    January 1, 1970
    I admit it...at first GLANCE I was in love...I mean really, how can you not be? That cover is absolutely stunning! Between the books, the color scheme, and the magical nature of the art, I was enamored. Thing is at first read, I wasn't quite sold. It's only now, weeks after I've finished the book and am revisiting my experience to put it into words for all of you, that I can fully appreciate the journey our young feathered friend (and others) truly takes us on.When it all began, I couldn't quite I admit it...at first GLANCE I was in love...I mean really, how can you not be? That cover is absolutely stunning! Between the books, the color scheme, and the magical nature of the art, I was enamored. Thing is at first read, I wasn't quite sold. It's only now, weeks after I've finished the book and am revisiting my experience to put it into words for all of you, that I can fully appreciate the journey our young feathered friend (and others) truly takes us on.When it all began, I couldn't quite fathom a story told by a parrot heck-bent on escaping his supposed captivity to wing it into the wilds of his homeland while at the same time rescuing his sister from the same caged fate be believes awaits himself. Okay, so it sounds incredible in a way, but really, first reading, I was having a hard time getting behind it. As the story progresses, we get to know Alastair...his hopes and dreams, successes and failures, neurosis's and ultimately...his true heart. You see, we AND he figure out that it isn't the place that makes "home" home, but rather how we feel, the people/creatures that surround us, and the love that fills our souls that points us in that home-ly direction. Though he goes through many trials and tribulations, some self created and others by circumstance, Alastair is a better bird for it in the end. All in all, a surprising read that really got under my feathers...I mean, skin...in the end. The hardships Alastair (and friends) go through, along with the unexpected connections they make, truly build a unique heartfelt story you won't soon forget. Lit lovers...watch for the samples of famous works as tasted by our feathered friend, and animal lovers...you're gonna love his neighbors at the pet store!**ARC received for review
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  • Molly Jaber (Cover To Cover Cafe)
    January 1, 1970
    First, can we just take a minute to talk about this cover? It’s absolutely adorable! I love the birds, and the books, and the colors. That alone would pull me into the book. Second, can I just tell you that I wish we had books like this when I was a kid! Don’t get me wrong, Beverly Cleary, Ramona Quimby, The Baby Sitters Club, and a few others were awesome. But, books like TSAOF would have been happily devoured then, too!I absolutely adored Alastair. I’m not a fan of birds, but it they were all First, can we just take a minute to talk about this cover? It’s absolutely adorable! I love the birds, and the books, and the colors. That alone would pull me into the book. Second, can I just tell you that I wish we had books like this when I was a kid! Don’t get me wrong, Beverly Cleary, Ramona Quimby, The Baby Sitters Club, and a few others were awesome. But, books like TSAOF would have been happily devoured then, too!I absolutely adored Alastair. I’m not a fan of birds, but it they were all like Alastair I would have a dozen! I loved his curmudgeon quirkiness, and his ability to pull you into the story, along with his sister Aggie. His poetry was awesome and captivating! And, Fritz. Let me tell you what. I saw a lot of my own kiddos in Fritz. He was just lovable. And, Bertie! The perfect “grandma” for the story. I loved her laugh-out-loud moments in the story.This debut novel by the amazingly talented Cory Leonardo is one that should be on every young reader’s shelves. It’s filled with life lessons, lots of laughter, characters who will become friends, and lots of fun. If you have a younger reader, age 8 and up, I would definitely recommend you get this for them. It’s worthy of 4 stars, for sure! Great job on your debut, Leonardo!*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Aladdin and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*
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  • Karen McKenna
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't think I would fall in love with a parrot. I am definitely not a bird person. So imagine my surprise when I fell hard for disgruntled, poetry-writing Alastair. I could not put his story down. Told mostly from the unreliable narrator point of view of the parrot, there are also letters from a Mrs. Albertina Plopky to her deceased husband and medical logs from part-time pet store assistant Fritz mixed in. Altogether, the characters are quirky and multi-dimensional. Alastair's voice rings tr I didn't think I would fall in love with a parrot. I am definitely not a bird person. So imagine my surprise when I fell hard for disgruntled, poetry-writing Alastair. I could not put his story down. Told mostly from the unreliable narrator point of view of the parrot, there are also letters from a Mrs. Albertina Plopky to her deceased husband and medical logs from part-time pet store assistant Fritz mixed in. Altogether, the characters are quirky and multi-dimensional. Alastair's voice rings true as a parrot, but in the end he teaches so much about life as well. This is one of those stories where you fall in love with animals, but walk away appreciating the humans in your life that much more. In the end, Alastair learns that sometimes what we think is best for us isn't at all. Sometimes when we think we are helping those around us, we are really acting out of selfishness or insecurity. Love is messy and loud and sacrifice and pain, but worth it. As a side note, Alastair's poem "This Is Just to Say" is my favorite version yet!
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  • Tracy
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange for the review copy. All opinions are my own.This sweet middle grade book is about a pair of African Grey parrot siblings who get sold to two different homes and are searching for their way back to one another--and ultimately, to freedom. Told in three different voices, the story offers MG readers unique perspectives: part personified animal, part grieving adult, part 12-year-old boy. For lovers of animals and lovable misfits.
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  • Shari
    January 1, 1970
    The Simple Art of Flying, a debut novel by Cory Leonardo, is brilliant, clever, and unputdownable! The story has multiple points of view, with the dueling perspectives of Alastair the African grey parrot and 11 year old Fritz Feldman, who writes his part of the story in his Official Medical Logbook. Each is a somewhat unreliable narrator in their own way, so they balance each other well. Interspersed are hilarious letters written by elderly Bertie Plopky, which draw her story closer to Fritz and The Simple Art of Flying, a debut novel by Cory Leonardo, is brilliant, clever, and unputdownable! The story has multiple points of view, with the dueling perspectives of Alastair the African grey parrot and 11 year old Fritz Feldman, who writes his part of the story in his Official Medical Logbook. Each is a somewhat unreliable narrator in their own way, so they balance each other well. Interspersed are hilarious letters written by elderly Bertie Plopky, which draw her story closer to Fritz and Alastair’s as the plot builds. Alastair is anxious and overprotective of his sister Aggie, constantly devising escape plans. His distrust and worry are a contrast to Aggie’s contentment and affection for Fritz, who is a determined but lonely kid with big dreams and a bigger heart. The three perspectives spiral closer together until they collide in unexpected ways. I laughed out loud (the Tiger episodes were hilarious), cried buckets, and ADORED the clever poetry tributes created by Alastair. This book celebrates the beautiful mess that defines being alive, and I could not put it down until I knew how it ended! I highly recommend for any reader, but especially 4th-6th graders and MG teachers, librarians, parents, grandparents, bird lovers, pet store owners, poets, and anyone who loved the movie UP!
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  • Gillian
    January 1, 1970
    So very much to love about this touching, hilarious book especially the viewpoint of perpetually cranky parrot-poet Alastair. Charming and delightful, hilarious and heartwarming, this book is going to find many many fans. Highly recommended!
  • Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you @kidlitexchange @coryleonardo and @simonkids for a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. This MG book releases 2.12.19!Oh my goodness, this is such a sweet, captivating story. It’s told from three very different perspectives. There’s Fritz, who is a young teen. He’s obsessed with the medical field and dreams about becoming a doctor one day. He is also a huge animal lover and works at the local pet store. This is where he meets and cares for Alastair and his sister Aggie. T Thank you @kidlitexchange @coryleonardo and @simonkids for a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. This MG book releases 2.12.19!Oh my goodness, this is such a sweet, captivating story. It’s told from three very different perspectives. There’s Fritz, who is a young teen. He’s obsessed with the medical field and dreams about becoming a doctor one day. He is also a huge animal lover and works at the local pet store. This is where he meets and cares for Alastair and his sister Aggie. They are African Grey Parrots who were born at the shop. Alastair spends a good majority of his time plotting an escape while Aggie seems to enjoy the idea of being a pet and becoming attached to a human. The final main character is my absolute favorite. Dear Mrs. Plopky is an elderly widow who is doing her best to live on her own. She decides one day that maybe she wants a companion and should adopt a bird. The story progresses and switches back and forth between these charming characters. Each provided quite a bit of humor, but also brought up important topics along the way. Fritz is such a sweet young boy. I loved his medical field entries and the kindness he truly showed on everyone he encountered. I’m so glad the author concluded with showing us a glimpse into his future and the man he had become. It was perfection!!! Alastair cracked me up. His antics, as well as many of the other pets, were so entertaining. It’s fun to imagine that an animal can think in those terms and have conversations amongst themselves. I loved that he could taste what a story was about and was such a troublemaker. He also wrote some great poetry. Watching his journey, especially the later half, was so special. (Trying my best not to give anything away here). Mrs. Plopky won me over from the very first moment we met her. I loved her letters to her dearly departed husband and her menagerie of unsocial pets. She had so much fabulous wisdom to share with these characters. This ultimately was a story about enjoying the everyday moments in life. The good along with the bad. There was a lovely quote that said, “You don’t always get everything you want in this life. But sometimes what you do get is better than you imagined, better than what you even thought possible.”
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from Edelweiss PlusAlastair and his sister Agatha hatch at Pete's pet shop and have a rocky upbringing. Luckily, they have a fledging doctor, 11-year-old Fritz, who works in the pet shop and gives them more attention than Pete, who just wants to get his money's worth out of them. There are guinea pigs and other animals who have quite an active social life in the pet store, and occasionally some of them get out with 80-year-old Bertie Plopky, who has events for seniors to mingle with pets. E ARC from Edelweiss PlusAlastair and his sister Agatha hatch at Pete's pet shop and have a rocky upbringing. Luckily, they have a fledging doctor, 11-year-old Fritz, who works in the pet shop and gives them more attention than Pete, who just wants to get his money's worth out of them. There are guinea pigs and other animals who have quite an active social life in the pet store, and occasionally some of them get out with 80-year-old Bertie Plopky, who has events for seniors to mingle with pets. Bertie is lonely, and writes letters to her husband, since her son is away, and eventually buys Alastair, although Fritz wishes he had the money to have a parrot of his own. Things do not go smoothly, although Bertie and Alastair eventually start to understand each other. Unfortunately, Alastair tries to escape, and Bertie falls and breaks a hip while waiting for him to return, which makes Bertie go to the Prickly Pines nursing home, which ends up being a decent fit after all.Strengths: Readers who enjoy books like Woodrow's Field Tripped, Birney's Humphrey books, Reiche's Freddie the Hamster, Hale's Class Pets series or Selfors' Wedgie and Gizmo will enjoy the hijinks of Alastair and his friends. I was kept reading by Bertie's adventures, and Fritz was also an intriguing character.Weaknesses: This starts out with Alastair's poetry, which combined with talking animals (my bête noire!) made my stomach sink, but really went uphill from there.What I really think: This struck me as more of an elementary book, since I have a lot of trouble getting books about classroom pets to circulate. Books like Cervantes' Gaby, Lost and Found orGriffin's When Friendship Followed Me Home do okay. I think it might be because my students don't have one classroom, but have a schedule where they have a different teacher for each subject. Would purchase for elementary school.
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  • KidlitUnderground
    January 1, 1970
    @kidlitexchange #partner - Thanks to #kidlitexchange and @simonkids (with assistance from rising star @coryleonardo ) for the Advance Reader’s Copy of THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING. All opinions are my own. 🦜 Alastair the African grey parrot has known since he was hatched that he is meant to fly through bright blue skies and live in a palm tree. Too bad he and his twin sister Aggie are born under a heat lamp in the vile Pete’s Pet Shack. Before he grows feathers, Alastair is plotting an escape for h @kidlitexchange #partner - Thanks to #kidlitexchange and @simonkids (with assistance from rising star @coryleonardo ) for the Advance Reader’s Copy of THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING. All opinions are my own. 🦜 Alastair the African grey parrot has known since he was hatched that he is meant to fly through bright blue skies and live in a palm tree. Too bad he and his twin sister Aggie are born under a heat lamp in the vile Pete’s Pet Shack. Before he grows feathers, Alastair is plotting an escape for himself and the naïve but loving Aggie. 🦜 It seems all is lost when Aggie is sold to 11 y/o Fritz, Pete’s nerdy assistant; and Alastair is sold to jitterbugging, pie-making, CAT OWNER, the newly-widowed Bertie Plotzky. 🦜 When Alastair finally does escape Bertie’s apartment and find Aggie, he must re-examine his idea of freedom. 🦜 Loved: •Narrated by a poetry-eating (and writing!) parrot. •Gently and humorously (what DO you have against gerbils, @coryleonardo? 🤣) shows the dark underside of a pet store and explores that animals feel loss at separation from their families as well. It’s not a conversation we have enough. Fritz’s grief is real, and morphs into an avian trichotillomania. 🦜 Tissue level: Sniffling. In a bittersweet climax, Alastair gives himself and Aggie permission to love their humans and accept their lives apart (Bertie and Fritz become lifelong friends). Give to: Someone who wants a pet story where nobody really dies. THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING, leaves the nest Feb 12, 2019
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  • Gail Shepherd
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn't stop squawking and screeching with laughter over every page of Cory Leonardo's witty, smart, hysterically funny middle grade debut. The setting: a pet store (mostly). The cast of characters: Alastair, an irascible, broke-winged parrot with a complicated and not particularly practical plan to fly free; his sweet and docile sister Aggie; Bertie, an old lady mourning her deceased husband; Fritz, an obsessive kid whose fascinations include warts and shingles; and a menagerie of guinea pig I couldn't stop squawking and screeching with laughter over every page of Cory Leonardo's witty, smart, hysterically funny middle grade debut. The setting: a pet store (mostly). The cast of characters: Alastair, an irascible, broke-winged parrot with a complicated and not particularly practical plan to fly free; his sweet and docile sister Aggie; Bertie, an old lady mourning her deceased husband; Fritz, an obsessive kid whose fascinations include warts and shingles; and a menagerie of guinea pigs, rabbits, guppies, puppies, gerbils, rats, and a boa constrictor--each with its own agenda. Naturally, the greedy bumpkin of a pet-shop owner makes a perfect antagonist. Alastair is supposed to be worth $1,000, but a half-naked feather-picking parrot is a hard sell. That is, until lonely Bertie shows up to take Alastair home. The rest is a fine romp through the Norton Anthology of Poetry, which Alastair devours page by page and regurgitates in his own fine form: parroty poems in the style of Frost, Bradstreet, Dickinson, and Lewis Carrol ("Jabberplopky"), which is later hilariously explicated by a goldfish.Ohhh how I loved this big hearted, high flying book! I want to shove it into the hand of every middle grade reader I know. The Simple Art of Flying publishes February 12, 2109 in the US and around the same time in the UK (under the title, Call Me Alastair). Note: I read an Advance Readers Copy provided by the publisher.
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  • Christopher
    January 1, 1970
    I first noticed The Simple Art of Flying at a local Barnes & Noble--the gorgeous cover instantly caught my eye--and I am pleased to report that I could indeed judge a book by its cover in this instance.Mrs. Leonardo's debut abounds with creativity. She cleverly references a bevy of classic authors through Alastair's poetry (titles such as "Sensing and Sensibility" and "On First Looking into Norton's Anthology were particularly genius). In addition, she creates a compelling world out of a pet I first noticed The Simple Art of Flying at a local Barnes & Noble--the gorgeous cover instantly caught my eye--and I am pleased to report that I could indeed judge a book by its cover in this instance.Mrs. Leonardo's debut abounds with creativity. She cleverly references a bevy of classic authors through Alastair's poetry (titles such as "Sensing and Sensibility" and "On First Looking into Norton's Anthology were particularly genius). In addition, she creates a compelling world out of a pet shop, which features gambling hamsters (they play for zucchini), gossipy rabbits, and bloodthirsty gerbils. What's even more impressive is how Leonardo manages to touch on many heavy topics during the novel's course. She deals with aging through the lovely Alberta Plopky, who's fighting with her son about relinquishing her independence. She writes about divorce through the eyes of young Fritz, who struggles with his dad's inattention. And she even discusses loss and grief through these two human characters!If I had to criticize something, it'd be the occasional crude humor or the fact that Alastair knows a bit too much for a parrot who's never been outside the pet shop. But these flaws are easy to overlook when everything else fits together so perfectly. The Simple Art of Flying is not just an excellent middle-grade debut; I'd also list it as a Newbery contender in 2020.
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  • Sofiya Pasternack
    January 1, 1970
    What I LikedThe cuteness of this book will knock you over. Seriously! I grew up with parrots (macaws when I was really little, then conures and finally a very grouchy lovebird named Zeke) and Alastair is a PERFECT African Grey. And by that I mean I feel like if I walked past him, he'd give me side-eye and then throw a peanut shell at the back of my head. But I never knew any African Greys who were such good poets as Alastair. I never asked them, though. Maybe that's why they threw peanut shells. What I LikedThe cuteness of this book will knock you over. Seriously! I grew up with parrots (macaws when I was really little, then conures and finally a very grouchy lovebird named Zeke) and Alastair is a PERFECT African Grey. And by that I mean I feel like if I walked past him, he'd give me side-eye and then throw a peanut shell at the back of my head. But I never knew any African Greys who were such good poets as Alastair. I never asked them, though. Maybe that's why they threw peanut shells...What I Would Have Liked to SeeYou know, I can't think of anything missing from this book. It was perfect for what it was trying to achieve. Maybe a disclaimer on one end that African Greys are difficult little buttheads and hard to take care of, and you should under no circumstances go buy one because you think it's going to be a good pet (it might be a good pet, but it will also make you go deaf and bite every finger to hamburger, so like... choices).My Favorite!Alastair's poetry was so wonderful! My favorite was "ULTRAVIOLET" where he's talking about how parrots see color versus how humans see color. The language in the poem is breathtaking, gorgeous, just incredible. I want to frame it and put it somewhere but I don't know what kind of context I could display it in. WHATEVER! Read it. Be swept away.TL;DRGrouchy parrot aims for escape his entire life, but poetry and cherries change his mind. Perfect for all ages!!
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  • Kirsti Call
    January 1, 1970
    THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING by Corey Leonardo is breathtakingly beautiful in every way. The stunning cover, lyrical writing, and 3 points of view makes this a phenomenal debut novel. Since the story is told through poetry, prose, letters and a medical log, each character is distinct, complex and relatable.I love Alistair, the African Grey Parrot whose intellect and determination to escape to be with his sister drive almost all of his actions. He writes the most beautiful poetry. One of his poems is THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING by Corey Leonardo is breathtakingly beautiful in every way. The stunning cover, lyrical writing, and 3 points of view makes this a phenomenal debut novel. Since the story is told through poetry, prose, letters and a medical log, each character is distinct, complex and relatable.I love Alistair, the African Grey Parrot whose intellect and determination to escape to be with his sister drive almost all of his actions. He writes the most beautiful poetry. One of his poems is written after Bertie (POV #2-- a grieving old woman who writes letters to her dead husband), attempts to teach him his colors:"That ribbon is not BLUE-- It's ghost-whale ocean-dust.That couch-it's not pink-- It's pearl-berry petal-wisp..."Fritz is the 12 year old aspiring doctor whose differences make it hard for him to make friends. His medical logs and interactions with other characters in the story help us understand his fears, his longing to connect with his father, and the price he's willing to pay for friendship. The book covers themes of grief, loyalty, hard work, friendship, family love, pet/owner relationships, freedom, depression, anxiety, and discovering that you've always had what you needed all along.
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  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    Three African parrot eggs are about to hatch. Two survive and they are named Alastair and Aggie. In this book we see the world through the cranky worldview of Alastair whose ultimate dream is to fly to Key West and live there with his sister. Twelve-year-old Fritz helps take care of the parrots at the pet store and saves up all his extra money to buy Aggie. Alastair is devastated and believes his live is over when Bertie Plopky adopts him. Fritz lends his part of the narrative by taking stock of Three African parrot eggs are about to hatch. Two survive and they are named Alastair and Aggie. In this book we see the world through the cranky worldview of Alastair whose ultimate dream is to fly to Key West and live there with his sister. Twelve-year-old Fritz helps take care of the parrots at the pet store and saves up all his extra money to buy Aggie. Alastair is devastated and believes his live is over when Bertie Plopky adopts him. Fritz lends his part of the narrative by taking stock of his medical status regularly as he aspires to be a doctor someday. Octogenarian Bertie writes regularly to her deceased husband and that is the lens used to show us her story. Combined this makes for a heartwarming and humorous book that reminds us to be grateful for what we have and love those around us. A big thank you to Aladdin and Edelweiss for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Serenity
    January 1, 1970
    *I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley*I am so, so behind on reading my NetGalley ARCs. This book came out a while ago, but I just finished reading it. I enjoyed it. I think Alastair's voice reads likes an adult, which might not resonate with all middle grade readers, but I think the humor and adventure will draw readers in. It's not a funny book, it's actually sometimes rather sad, but there is comic relief in some of Alastair's crazy schemes and silly antics *I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley*I am so, so behind on reading my NetGalley ARCs. This book came out a while ago, but I just finished reading it. I enjoyed it. I think Alastair's voice reads likes an adult, which might not resonate with all middle grade readers, but I think the humor and adventure will draw readers in. It's not a funny book, it's actually sometimes rather sad, but there is comic relief in some of Alastair's crazy schemes and silly antics (especially when it comes to tormenting Tiger, the cat). The re-written poetry is sometimes quite funny, and might compel kids to look up the originals. Overall I think readers will appreciate Alastair's relationship with Aggie, Fritz's insecurities and quirkiness, and Bertie's spunkiness and words of wisdom.
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  • Joshua Levy
    January 1, 1970
    This incredible middle grade book has everything: Humor? Check. Heart? Absolutely. Animal escape capers? Yes! Each character's voice--from wide-eyed Fritz (a kid!), to sweet old Bertie (a retiree!), to world-weary Alastair (a parrot!)--shines through on every page, both because of how unique each character is, and because of the author's extraordinary talent.THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING has chapters in prose, in verse, AND in epistolary/letter-form, emphasizing those unique voices and assuring that This incredible middle grade book has everything: Humor? Check. Heart? Absolutely. Animal escape capers? Yes! Each character's voice--from wide-eyed Fritz (a kid!), to sweet old Bertie (a retiree!), to world-weary Alastair (a parrot!)--shines through on every page, both because of how unique each character is, and because of the author's extraordinary talent.THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING has chapters in prose, in verse, AND in epistolary/letter-form, emphasizing those unique voices and assuring that everyone reading this wonderful book will find something (most likely, everything) that speaks to them. I'm very grateful I got to read an ARC of this book. And I know that--when it gets into kids' hands--they'll feel the exact same way.
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  • Naomi Milliner
    January 1, 1970
    Feel free to judge this book by its cover, because the inside is every bit as exquisite. I'm not sure it's possible to love a book more. Cory Campbell Leonardo has written a story brimming with heart, humor, hope and wisdom. This incredible debut MG novel about two African Grey parrots will have you laughing and crying even as it fills you with its universal themes, dreams, and humanity. Told in several points of view, including a precocious 12-year-old wannabe vet, a curmudgeonly parrot, and a Feel free to judge this book by its cover, because the inside is every bit as exquisite. I'm not sure it's possible to love a book more. Cory Campbell Leonardo has written a story brimming with heart, humor, hope and wisdom. This incredible debut MG novel about two African Grey parrots will have you laughing and crying even as it fills you with its universal themes, dreams, and humanity. Told in several points of view, including a precocious 12-year-old wannabe vet, a curmudgeonly parrot, and a wonderful old lady named Bertie Plopky (is there any better name than that?), this is a gorgeous read from the cover to the last line. Please read it.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    To whomever used "plucky" in the publisher blurb, most excellent pun sir! I tip my hat to you.The world needs more chapter books with birds! Not everyone is a dog or cat person, so thank you publisher for realizing that. But this one while charming, just tried to tackled too much. Grieving, family responsibility, anxiety, guilt, proper treatment of animals, and poetry? It would have been less overbearing with fewer messages packed in. The poetry wasn't necessary.Overall very sweet if a little pr To whomever used "plucky" in the publisher blurb, most excellent pun sir! I tip my hat to you.The world needs more chapter books with birds! Not everyone is a dog or cat person, so thank you publisher for realizing that. But this one while charming, just tried to tackled too much. Grieving, family responsibility, anxiety, guilt, proper treatment of animals, and poetry? It would have been less overbearing with fewer messages packed in. The poetry wasn't necessary.Overall very sweet if a little preachy. Easily could be handed to those that enjoy Katherine Applegate.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    I am not sure why but this one didn't come together into a compelling whole for me. I was intrigued by the premise and the various elements - all things I would normally love. But they didn't gel into a book I felt deeply engaged in. It could have been an off day or two for me as a reader but I ended up having to push myself to finish. Lots of promising elements but I didn't connect with any of them as much as I wanted. I'll be interested to see how our book club kids respond to it.I couldn't lo I am not sure why but this one didn't come together into a compelling whole for me. I was intrigued by the premise and the various elements - all things I would normally love. But they didn't gel into a book I felt deeply engaged in. It could have been an off day or two for me as a reader but I ended up having to push myself to finish. Lots of promising elements but I didn't connect with any of them as much as I wanted. I'll be interested to see how our book club kids respond to it.I couldn't love the cover more however.
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  • Chris Baron
    January 1, 1970
    The SIMPLE ART OF FLYING is an all heart, Middle Grade, human/animal caper, that captures the imagination! I love this grumpy parrot! But I also love all the quirky, unique characters. This book is so original, and what I liked best is how multi-layered the text is--the characters have such distinct personalities and voices, and the forms of the book work so well together from poetry-to-prose to letters, that I am certain that kids will be really engaged with the book from start to finish!
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