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Born to Fly

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  808 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
Born to Fly tells the story of eleven-year-old tomboy Bird McGill. Ever since she can remember, Bird has loved flying in small propeller airplanes with her mechanic dad. When the local airstrip is turned into a military flight school, Bird is in heaven. But when a young Japanese American student named Kenji Fujita joins Bird’s class, the entire school seems to be convinc ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Robert Kent
Oct 21, 2010 Robert Kent rated it it was amazing
To read an interview with author Michael Ferrari, or to read other interviews with writers and literary agents, log onto my blog at

Born to Fly is a an extemely enjoyable adventure novel that stars a girl, but which will be loved by both boys and girls. Ferrari’s writing is wonderful throughout and I have a number of great excerpts to share with you. To start with, here is the novel's first sentence:

Just because I was a girl in 1941, don’t think I was some sissy
Oct 01, 2012 Olivia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: every one who likes history and adventure
Recommended to Olivia by: My librarian
Name: Olivia Schuringa Due Date: Friday, October 12th Period: _
Book Report #1

Book Title: Born to fly # of pages: 224
Author: Michael Ferrari Genre: Any fiction of your choice! See below.
(Circle one: realistic, historical, fantasy, mystery, sci fi, suspense, horror, )

Part A: Write a 1 page summary of the book you read. It must include the most important events/details only. Use correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization!

Eleven year old Bird McGill isn’t like any other girl, she doesn’t l
Oct 10, 2009 Brenda rated it really liked it
Bird McCall is an eleven-year-old girl in the 1940s who has dreams of one day flying an airplane. Her father supports her dream but others in town feel believe Bird just has a really vivid imagination. After all, she is the same person who swears she flew up onto a roof and talks about the monster named Genny who she claims lives in the water and eats fisherm

Later, a young Japanese-American boy named Kenji arrives in town to live with his uncle while his parents are "away." Some believe he is a
Jun 20, 2014 Jill rated it liked it
Shelves: ra-shortlist
Bird-McGill’s father has gone off to fight in World War II, and Bird would give anything to be flying with him in one of the P-40 fighter planes. She chafes under the rule of her mother—who doesn’t understand Bird’s tomboyish spirit and desire to fly—and invents adventures that no one in town takes seriously. She never expects to find a real adventure on her own doorstep! When a man is found murdered, suspicion falls on Japanese resident Mr. Tomo, and it’s up to Bird and her new friend Kenji—Mr. ...more
Bird McGill loves flying. Her father has always encouraged her to follow her dreams even if they aren't what other little girls enjoy. But when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Bird's father must join the fighting. Bird must endure the school bullies on her own, until the day that a new boy moves in. This boy is Japanese-American and quickly becomes the scapegoat for the bullies. When he saves Bird from drowning, the two become friends. They begin to investigate a mysterious appearance in the bay ...more
Aditi P.
Aug 23, 2012 Aditi P. rated it it was amazing
Absolutely AMAZING! I can't even describe how much I enjoyed this book. It caught my attention from the very beginning and throughout the book I was laughing, crying, and screaming in frustration (from the character's actions and feelings). I was not once confused except for when I read the pages so quick, I had no idea what just happened. I fell in love with Bird, her father, and so many other characters as well as hatred for several as well. The characters in the book really grow on you as you ...more
Ellen ekgpoetry
Sep 19, 2012 Ellen ekgpoetry rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 3rd-6th graders, boys, girls
Loved this book! I think girls and boys alike will enjoy this story of an 11-year-old girl named Bird in the early 1940s. Bird's father teaches her to fly a small plane before he goes to war. While he's gone a mystery ensues in the town but Bird is the only one who realizes that something not quite right is going on. No one believes her because of her vivid imagination. Ken-ji, an American boy with Japanese parents, moves to town to live with his uncle. The anti-Japanese sentiment during this ti ...more
Sandra Stiles
Nov 11, 2009 Sandra Stiles rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grades
Bird Mcgill loves to fly. She is only eleven years old. Her father repairs airplanes. On her birthday her father lets her try to land the plane. She almost does it. Dad has to step in and help out. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Bird's father finds himself drafted. To make matters worse for Bird a new boy has joined her class. His name is Kenji. The two of them become friends and have joined forces to find a spy. The book was full of historical information. Most of the students I teach don't ...more
Mikailah Shackleford
Oct 21, 2012 Mikailah Shackleford rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book because it has a lot of adventure and it did not get boring. It is about a girl named bird, who is a tomboy and loves to fly planes. She thinks a boy named Kenji is a spy but it turns out she actually does find spy activity when doing a paper for her school. There is an explosion of a plane, and many exciting things that happen that make this book interesting! I think kids would really enjoy this book.
Feb 18, 2012 Jeanne rated it liked it
Shelves: rebecca-caudill
RC 2013 This might be a good choice for next year's On the Same Page community-wide read. First of all, it takes place in Geneseo, Rhode Island, which would be good for our school in Geneseo, IL. It has a strong female protagonist who is not too girly for the boys. It touches on bullying, racism, Japanese internment camps, father away at war, spies, friendship, and there's an adventurous mystery to solve.
Aug 12, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
Michael Ferrari's first book, Born to Fly, is wonderful. Bird, her family, and friends are well defined. The book contains elements of racism, sexism, and espionage - all written for middle grade youth. Set in 1941 the author manages to give the reader the flavor of the era as well as the personality elements that are ageless. I believe Michael is destined to be a highly successful writer. Good job, Michael
Melanie Au
May 01, 2010 Melanie Au rated it really liked it
A good historical fiction with some mystery and action. Female protagonist is unique in that she is obsessed with planes... touches on issues of civil rights, freedom and racism and prejudice, towards Japanese during WWII. Main character has a good voice and is a spunky, likeable character. Suitable for mid-upper elementary.
Oct 09, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it
My son picked this as his book for one of his 4th grade book reports. It was a quick read and I really enjoyed it, especially the heroine, 11 yr old Bird. It took place at the start of WWII, and highlight some important issues during that time period. My son thought liked that Bird flew airplanes, and how she described what it was like to fly.
Jun 27, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
I didn't think I would like this novel set during WWII in Rhode Island, but I immediately connected with the main character. BIrd is a tomboy, quirky, spunky, and free spirit. The story had some interesting twists and turns, a bit of mystery, adventure, and suspense. I would definitely recommend this to my students.
Sep 24, 2012 Dolores rated it really liked it
Adventure, mystery, humor and historical fiction all rolled into one fast-moving story. Bird is a memorable and likable character that kids will find themselves relating to. This is a book with appeal to both boys and girls--especially the reluctant readers.
Jan 11, 2013 Steph rated it really liked it
At first I was rolling my eyes at this - typical Caudill nominee. But then it got GOOD. A nice mixture of action and suspense, but lots of lessons about predjudice. And I LOVE that not everything turned out perfectly, but it still wrapped up well.

Surprised to say I really liked it. :)
Aug 20, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it
This was a good choice for our 4th grade girls book club. They all seemed to like the story, they had strong feelings about much of the plot and had very thoughtful responses to each others thoughts. It also fired them up to go and look further into the time period. A success.
Jeanne Grelck
Sep 03, 2012 Jeanne Grelck rated it really liked it

Such a great strong female character although her tomboy attitude, should make it a hit with both boys and girls. There are a few 'bra' references that probably could have been left out. I did enjoy it from beginning to end, but especially the last 100 pages.
Feb 06, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it
It might not be realistic from an army or war point of view, but it is a true adventure with a true hero - Bird McGill. Ending let's young readers use their imaginations and dig deep within themselves for meaning.
May 21, 2012 lynn rated it liked it
a fun book for a child 8-10 would was nominated for a nutmeg award which is a ct award which is voted for by students teachers and librarians...
Nov 04, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it
Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari

Genre: Historical Fiction


Eleven old Bird McGill loves to fly. Ever since she can remember she has been flying with her Dad. He even taught her to fly at a very young age. Suddenly, the life she had always known is changed forever. Her Dad is called to war. Her life is miserable until Kenji, a Japanese boy, comes to her school. After several misunderstandings, they become best friends.

One day after an encounter with and enemy from their school, Kenji and Bird
Gr 4-7-Bird McGill regards her dad as her best friend. He takes her up in the planes he repairs and lets her take the controls, and he encourages her dream of becoming a pilot. But a special bulletin disrupts her 11th-birthday afternoon: Japan has attacked the military base in Pearl Harbor, and Bird's world is turned upside down. During the next few months, the local airstrip is turned into a military flight school, and her dad is shipped overseas. When a Japanese-American boy joins Bird's class ...more
Apr 17, 2013 Krista rated it really liked it
Shelves: caudill-2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2012 M. rated it really liked it
2013 Rebecca Caudill nominee. 4th grade and up, mostly girls, larger print. Historical fiction, set during World War II in Rhode Island.

11-year old Bird is the middle child in her family and her goal in life is to become a fighter pilot. She can fly a plane, sort of, since her dad has been teaching her, and she absorbs the technical details of planes as fast as she can read them. And this makes her very odd in her small town where gender stereotypes are only too plainly accepted--in that world,
Jan 20, 2013 Simone rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book! Set in the 1940s, Bird McGill's lifelong dream is to become a pilot. Only, there's one problem... she's a 10-year-old girl. But that's the least of her problems when her world is turned upside-down by four things.

1. Her dad, the only person who ever believed in her dream, has gone off to fight in the war. (When will he come back? Will he?)
2. There is a new kid in class named Kenji, and he's Japanese. (Being the 40's, during WWII, nobody trusts him.)
3. A man in black is threatening
Mr. Steve
Really, really enjoyed this book. I found the protagonists to be realistic and worthy. Bird is a girl many girls could relate to, and children enjoy cheering for somebody like Kenji - a good person who is treated badly for no good reason. To top it off, it is a bit of a mystery, along with action and adventure (and historical fiction). There are not many heroines in children's literature like Bird and that makes this book a great choice. But it does have an interest to boys too, as it deals with ...more
This is my Condense Review:
I enjoyed seeing that a girl wanted to fly a plane. That her dad was teaching her. Her dad let her have her chance of landing a plane on her birthday. This book does have some action and Adventure. Those their a mystery unfolds once her father was drafted to sent off to fight in the war.

There information about WWII in this book and about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It does give some information on our history. It goes into issues about bullying, prejudiced, Learning to
Jan 27, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
I read this for the Battle of the Books competition going on at my kids' school. This book has been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, and deservedly so. The two books are maybe even too similar, making Born to Fly seem a little derivative. It is, however, the perfect version for the 3rd-6th grade crowd, and it has a wonderful message for all kids but especially girls: be a good friend, be true to yourself, and don't let anyone tell you "girls can't do that." I especially liked the afterword whe ...more
Jul 18, 2012 Jen rated it liked it
This is a 2013 Caudill Nominee.
It is a historical fiction book set in WWII.
Birdie's father is away at war, and on the homefront the Japanese Americans are being sent to internment camps.

Birdie becaomes friends with Kenji, a Japanese American in Rhode Island.

They become friends, but a huge stumbling block comes across their path.

Kenji's gradfather is accused of destroying an American War station.

If true Kenji & grandfather will go into the internment camps.

Birdie is just hoping her Dad will c
Feb 06, 2017 Sienna rated it liked it
This book is a historical fiction novel which teaches you about what was life like to have a father go off to war and what life was like for Japanese people who got blamed for pearl harbor.
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