A Tuesday Ten: I’m Flying!

The idea of the ability to fly without the use of machines to help us has enchanted human beings for a long time.  From Icarus to Superman, this is one of the powers most often wished for in the super hero repertoire.  So this week’s list is about flight.  Specifically the kind of amazing flight and flying done by people and creatures who usually don’t fly.


Powerless by Matthew Cody (Knopf Books, 2009)

Daniel is the new kid in town.  It’s a town where many of the kids have mysterious super powers, including the ability to fly.  But every child loses their abilities and memory of having those abilities on their thirteenth birthday.  Daniel may not have powers, but he may have the abilities needed to solve this mystery.  In the sequel, Super (2012) Daniel discovers he suddenly has super powers, including the power of flight.  But he only seems to have them if he drains them off of one of his super-powered friends . . .


The Boy Who Could Fly by James Norcliffe (Edgmont USA, 2010)

Red is a desperately lonely boy, yearning to see more of the world.  When he meets the loblolly boy with his ability to fly on great green wings, Red wants to learn to fly himself.  But Red has no idea of the price he will pay to gain such wings for himself . . .


Gwinna by Barbara Helen Berger (Philomel, c1990)

Gwinna is a child given to a childless couple.  But she is also a girl with wings growing on her back.  Rather than embrace her differences, her parents bind her wing, fearing that which they don’t understand.  After she can no longer take the oppressive binding, Gwinna runs away and sets out on a quest to discover who she is in truth. (and yes, she does fly)


Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann (NorthSouth, May 2014)

Mice don’t fly . . . or do they?   One small mouse with a penchant for engineering and invention finds a way to gain flight in order to escape his oppressive city.  Admittedly, the mouse flies in a plane at the end of  the story, but the fantastic notion that this mouse could build such devices as in this book makes it perfect for the list.


The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Knopf Books, 2004)

A stunningly beautiful story that’s spins a folktale about people from Africa who were able to fly.   The story recounts how those people lost their ability when they were taken as slaves and brought to the U.S. and how they forget that their people had ever flown . . . until an old man starts reminding people of that fact, and urging them to break their bonds and soar once more.  Leo and Diane Dillon’s images really capture the essence of this story.


The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester (Feiwel and Friends, 2008)

Piper McCloud has the ability to fly, something she’s tried to keep a secret for years, but now her secret’s out and she’s been invited to join a mysterious school for kids like her–kids with special powers all their own.  Only something is very wrong with the school, and Piper becomes determined to escape.


Arnold of the Ducks by Mordicai Gerstein (HarperCollins, c1983) 

Poking fun at the story of Tarzan of the Apes, we have this silly, but charming tale of Arnold, a baby boy who is lost and taken under the wing of a mama duck.  Mama duck treats Arnold just as she does her other babies . . . and with some effort even teaches the boy to fly.  When he’s discovered by humans who take him back to civilization, Arnold still keeps some of his duck roots and must come to their aid when they are threatened.


Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin, illustrations by S. D. Schindler (Scholastic, c1988)

Generally cats can’t fly either. But in this story, an entire litter of kittens is born with wings and must learn to survive in the world.  Neither quite like their four-footed feline brethren, nor likely to win friends among bird kind, these kits must find some place all their own.


Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K. G. Campbell (Candlewick, 2013)

This year’s Newbery winner makes this list.  A squirrel has a tragic accident with a vacuum cleaner . . . and comes out of it with a strange set of superpowers.   Chief among these is the power to fly (which is not normally associated with squirrels unless they’re a particular gliding type of flying squirrel.  With moniker Ulysses, our squirrel super hero works to make sense of his super powers and what they mean to a small furry rodent.  He and Flora will share a most remarkable, and endearing, friendship.


Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, illustrated by F. D. Bedford (Barnes and Noble Classics, c1902)

Some of you probably thought of this one straight out.  What list on flying would be complete without this famous classic?  What is required for flight in this story of a wild boy who never grows up is a pinch of pixie dust–as well as some happy thoughts.    The main purpose of flight appears to be to fly between earth and neverland and to get the best of those nasty pirates!

So there’s my ten!  What are your favorite stories about flying?




About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on December 9, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great list! A lot of these I’m unfamiliar with, too. One I’d add is the wonderful Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Bpack and Blue Magic

  2. Great list! Unfamiliar with a lot of these. The other lovely book about flying that comes to mind is Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Black and Blue Magic. Oh–and the episode in Five Children and It where they all wish for wings…

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