Monday, April 6, 2015

"Take these broken wings and learn to fly" -- BLACKBIRD FLY by Erin Entrada Kelly

I had the pleasure of meeting Erin Entrada Kelly at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA, during her book launch party on March 27. She read a passage from Blackbird Fly, and gave a moving and heartwarming speech about growing up as the only Filipino American in her class in a small town in Louisiana. So she always felt different.





Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books/Harpercollins, March 2015, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That's no choice at all. Apple Yengko moved from the Philippines to Louisiana when she was little, and now that she is in middle school, she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams.
Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. Her mother still cooks Filipino foods, speaks a mix of English and Cebuano, and chastises Apple for becoming "too American." It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple's class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple's friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is.


Why I recommend it: The voice is spot-on. Apple Yengko will strum her way into your heart and into your soul and you won't be able to forget her. Erin Entrada Kelly has perfectly captured the essence of middle school: both the pain and the hope, the cruelty of certain kids, and the solid lasting friendships that can develop with other kids. Reading this is like eavesdropping on real middle-schoolers. I especially loved how Beatles' music helped Apple follow her dream and find her place in the world. Ten-year-old me would have hugged this book and read it all over again. 
Bonus: This book will appeal strongly to anyone who ever felt like an outsider. Perfect for starting discussions in the classroom, or with your kids at home, about bullying, about tolerance, and about diversity.   
My favorite line:  "I imagined a hole cracking open and transporting me into another dimension so I wouldn't have to listen to my mother."  (p. 88)

Erin's website
Follow Erin on Twitter


Apple's favorite Beatles song is "Blackbird Fly" and mine is "Here Comes the Sun."  What's your favorite?


22 comments:

  1. I really loved the voice too. Awesome you got to meet Erin.

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    1. She's a real sweetheart, Natalie! And so talented.

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  2. Wow! This sounds like one I have to read. I'm going to look for it.

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    1. Hope you get a chance to read it, Andrea. You won't be disappointed.

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  3. Love the cover on this one. Great story line too. I've added to my TBR list.

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  4. Gorgeous cover and sounds like a fabulous story!

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  5. Good review. The storyline sounds compelling.

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  6. This one sounds really good. Thanks for telling me about it.

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  7. I think I lost my comment. Trying again. ;)

    I remember seeing this cover around and hearing a little bit about it. I had it on my list, so I am glad to learn more about it. It sounds great. I am happy to hear that the main character's voice is so well crafted. How awesome that you were there for the book launch!

    I love the songs Blackbird Fly and Here Comes the Sun. My favorite Beatles song depends on my mood- but today I would say The Long and Winding Road. So many amazing songs to choose from. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Don't you hate it when Blogger eats your comment? You're right, Jess. There are so many terrific Beatles songs to choose from. And The Long and Winding Road is lovely. It's also one of the few I can play on the piano (the other being I Will).

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  8. I'm so intrigued by this combination of modern-girl rocker and beatles-loving outsider! At least, that's what I took away from this. Going to have to pick it up, and see what else is going on!

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    1. Well, of course, there's a lot more to the story, Suzanne! How Apple handles the bullying is the most inspiring and touching part of it, I thought. I also found it very cool that a child of today loves the Beatles. They're timeless.

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  9. Wow! It sounds like a really good book! And I LOVE the cover! Thanks for the review!!! :-)

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    1. Hi Cindy! I love the cover too. And the book is excellent.

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  10. I missed this last week - it looks like a fun book. The character sounds like one we can all identify with.

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  11. This sounds amazing! I love that she finds solace in her music. I think a lot of kids could relate to her feelings of a outsider, and it's nice to see a book about a Filipino American.

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation.