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by Lucy Christopher

Book list *Starred Review* Like her father and grandfather, 13-year-old Isla seems to have a mystical connection, as well as emotional bond, with the swans that migrate to their area each winter. But after her dad collapses during a birding expedition, Isla's focus abruptly shifts from the nature preserve to the hospital's coronary care unit. Though worried about her father, she finds solace in her deepening friendship with Harry, a boy who has leukemia; in her bond with a lone whooper swan nearby; and in an unusual school project that takes on a life of its own. Christopher, who wrote the Printz Honor Book Stolen (2010), offers younger readers a quiet but compelling story with several well-realized, idiosyncratic characters. She skillfully develops the novel's varied elements and weaves them into a unified narrative that occasionally falls into a predictable pattern only to surprise the reader once again. As narrator, Isla conveys with equal sensitivity her discomfort in the initially alien hospital environment, her growing understanding of family history, and her realizations about herself and those she loves. Though written for a slightly older audience, this sensitive novel will resonate with many readers who enjoyed Gill Lewis' Wild Wings (2011).--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old Isla and her father have long been fans of the wild swans that migrate through the nearby preserve, but environmental changes and birds flying into wires without warning markers are diminishing their numbers. After her dad has a heart attack, Isla, her brother, and her mum spend time at the hospital, where she finds a friend in Harry, a patient her age in the cancer ward. The two spot a lone swan and work together to try to help it. Details about daily life, soccer, school assignments, and family pressures are folded into the bigger traumas of life and death in this portrait of a girl growing into her own opinions and figuring out what matters most to her. Isla's art project, inspired by da Vinci's flying model sketches, becomes a mission to create wings for a flying machine, a project that helps her connect to her special swan, Harry, and an estranged grandfather. Beautiful writing with lyrical moments and mystical descriptions of nature creates a story that is rich and compelling with plenty of action to balance out the many reflective moments. Isla and Harry are experiencing first love while confronting the real possibility of death. The result is a rewarding and superb celebration of life.-Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In her first middle-grade novel, Christopher (Stolen) offers a story ribboned with metaphors involving themes of trauma, freedom, and hope. Isla and her father share a special relationship with the swans that migrate to a nearby lake each winter, until he is hospitalized with a heart condition. Isla's best friend has also moved away, and she feels isolated until meeting Harry, an optimistic and imaginative leukemia patient undergoing chemo treatments at the hospital and awaiting a bone marrow transplant. After Isla discovers a lost swan that has been separated from its flock, she makes it her mission to renew hope in Harry, her father, and herself by teaching the swan to fly, using a da Vinci-inspired flying machine that she creates with help from her estranged grandfather. Readers who share Isla's love of nature and penchant for introspection will easily gravitate to her; her determination and pithy observations make for a strong, sensitive portrait of a girl trying to make sense of difficult changes in her life, while learning to draw strength from those around her. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal After her father's heart failure, Isla hopes that saving a lone swan that is struggling to fly will make everything better. At the hospital, she meets an understanding young cancer patient who becomes the assistant in her plan. This modern-day realistic novel is tender, sensitive, and compelling. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.