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Flying Lessons & Other Stories

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For the hardback, see ISBN13: 9781101934593.

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

5 pages, Audible Audio

First published January 3, 2017

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About the author

Ellen Oh

20 books963 followers
*Hi friends! I'm not often on Goodreads so if you want to keep up with me, the best place to do so is on instagram! I'm at elloecho!

Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves K-pop, K-dramas, and eating good food that someone else cooks for her. She is fueled by Diet Coke and Krispy Kreme donuts are her kryptonite. Ellen is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband, three children, two dogs, and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 962 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
March 20, 2019
I feel like anthologies are so hard to rate, because there are stories you'll love and stories that you'll feel iffy about and that was the case for me and this book. It was nice to be able to read from authors I've never read before and see what their writing styles were like. I also love that this book is full of diverse stories, which is something that we still need more of.
Profile Image for Natalie.
567 reviews3,196 followers
August 1, 2018
Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us. Flying Lessons & Other Stories includes a variety of characters — from different backgrounds, disabilities, ethnicities, sexualities. And so here's a look of some of my favorite short stories featured in here:

Sol Painting, Inc. by Meg Medina

Twelve-year-old Merci Suarez is helping her father out with at his work the summer before entering her first year at “fancy Seaward Pines School.” Her science loving brother, Roli, is also helping out. And when they arrive at their painting locating for the summer, it turns out to be their newly shared school. But the day takes a turn for the worse when some high school students walk in and destroy the hard work of Sol Painting, Inc. without even a hint of remorse.

“My brother has always been strangely good at reading my mind. Can’t he see how awful it felt to be unimportant, to watch Papi stand there like a chump?
“What did you want Papi to do, Merci? Pitch a fit and blow your free ride?”
Without warning, tears spring to my eyes. He pretends not to notice. Instead, he cups my scalp with his enormous hand and gives a squeeze. “Try to let this idea into your thick cranium. Papi chose to be invisible today so you won’t ever have to be.”

That last sentence really hit hard.

Medina is a great storyteller that managed to really give depth to her characters in such a short amount. With Roli's passions and Merci's dedication to the business, I was more than swept into their lives. I hope they receive everything their heart desires.

Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson

I love Woodson's writing a lot, so I was truly pumped when I saw her as one of the contributors to this collection. Main Street is told from the point of view of a main white character, Treetop, befriending Celeste, who has brown skin in a predominately white town.

“I had never known anyone brown, and Celeste had never lived in a place where brown people didn’t.”

It is a sprawling look at race, harmful stereotypes, childhood friendships, and identity. And that ending left me feeling hopeful for the future.
I was also left wanting more of Jacqueline Woodson's writing, so I've got to get her books into my hands very soon!

Oh, and just to give you an excerpt, here's one of my favorite passages from the story:

“Last winter the snow fell so long and rose so high, my father hired a man from Keene to plow it. When the man arrived, his huge plow moved silently through the mass of snow. The silence surprised me. How could so much power exist inside such quiet? As I watched, pressing my head against the window, I said to my father, I want to move through the world that quietly. That powerfully.”

I'm in love with Woodson's way with words.

Flying Lessons by Soman Chainani

About a month ago, Santosh’s sixty-nine-year-old nani informed (not asked) that she would take him on a three-week trip across Europe. “Less than a month later, I am alone on a naked beach.” To say that his grandmother was quite a character would be an understatement.

“In Berlin, she left me stranded in the middle of a dodgy parade. In Marseilles, she paid a fast-talking young cabdriver named Gael to take me out with his wild teenage friends while she shopped for shoes. And yesterday, on our first night in Spain, I dressed up in a suit and combed my hair so I’d look nice for the “theater,” only to end up cowering in the front row at an adults-only burlesque.”

But I ended up liking her so much more than expected, particularly after this next passage:

“Did you take Mom away too when she was young?” I ask later, struggling to crack a stone crab at dinner.
“Your mother is like your grandfather,” Nani says vaguely, already finished shelling and eating hers.
“What’s that mean?” I ask, trying to keep the slippery crab in the silver cracker.
“They’d rather stay home and do work.”
“Yeah, but that’s how they both make money—”
“And what do they do with it?” Nani fires. “Your mother hoards every dime as if she’ll live forever. Your grandfather hasn’t taken me to a movie or dinner or show or anywhere else in fifteen years. ‘We’re old now,’ he says. ‘We’re old.’ ”
“But he lets you spend as much money as you want—”
“Money!” She pounces. “What good is money to a bird in a cage?”

That last sentence left me speechless.

Since this was the title story and my first read by Chainani, I was quite excited to say the least. And the author did not disappoint: the characters were lively, complex, and the dialogue was gripping. And Kamla Sani (the grandmother) speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I loved her.

I appreciate her so much that I need to share this next dialogue, because with one final sentence she managed to shift my whole point of view:

“Do you know why I brought you on this trip, Santosh?”
“So you could get away from Grandpa?”
She lets out a cackle. “No! Well, yes. But no. I brought you on this trip because you win too many awards at school.”
I stare at her blankly. “What?”
“Best in math, best in English, best in debate, history, science, chorus…How many awards can you win? Every year I come to the ceremony and watch you go back and forth to the stage, picking up all the trophies and making me and your mother carry them, because there are too many for you to hold.”
“Nani,” I say, losing patience. “What does winning awards have to do with anything?”
“Because when you’re older, no one cares how many awards you win, Santosh. People care if you have something to talk about. And right now, all you have to talk about are things from books.”

I'm not even joking with inserting that gif because that passage really was inspirational for me. Nani notices how receiving those awards year after year doesn't make Santosh happy as it used to do, and so she offers up some really useful advice that I took to heart.

And as if this story couldn’t get any more hearts from me, it included a LGBTQIA+ storyline!! Props to Nani for fake fainting so that her grandson can talk to the cute boy he likes.

“Come, Santosh, darling,” she wheezes, adding a few hacking coughs, as if while fake fainting she also happened to contract tuberculosis. “Stay with your nani and this handsome boy who rescued me.”

Is there anyone better than her?? Nope...
I know for a fact that I won't forget her anytime soon. And so I think it goes without saying that Flying Lessons was my favorite short story. (However, I need to have more clarity on that ending!! Help.)
Overall, I'm so glad this collection exist; I need more like it. Flying Lessons & Other Stories is the best thing that's happened to me this week. And I have nothing but love for it.

5/5 stars

*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Flying Lessons & Other Stories, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!*

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Profile Image for Bogi Takács.
Author 55 books579 followers
February 6, 2017
I will probably not review this one at length, I read it because I wanted to relax with fun middle grade stories and loved the lineup. It did not go as well as I thought it would. So just some brief points.

I did not want to see in an explicitly diversity-themed book:
* using fatness as a shorthand for bad character traits
* the existence of non-Christians spoiling the fun about Christmas, as now school holiday celebrations need to be secular (multi-page scene about this)
* the boy forcing the girl to hold his hand presented as totally OK
* queer boys with sad ending (it starts early, does it)
* gender policing presented as everyday banter

I really enjoyed the Meg Medina story though (I need to pick up Jaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and also her newer work). The Jacqueline Woodson, Tim Tingle, Kelly J. Baptist stories were also fine. The rest I had misgivings about, yes, even by some of my favorite authors.
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
December 24, 2016
Flying Lessons and Other Stories by Ellen Oh

Flying Lessons and Other Stories are a solid anthology. I love the recurring theme of the short stories which is the lessons you can glean after reading each one. All of the stories feature those kids who are usually unseen. The underprivileged, the weird, the outcast, the brown, and black kids. It’s a necessary mirror for all ages, particularly for middle grade readers. I can’t recommend it enough.

Since, this is a collection of short stories I’ll rate separately the parts that left a mark on me:

How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt de la Peña - 3 stars
This is more of a self preference. I couldn't grasp the writing, hence, why I couldn't relate to the story. It's like reading a fanfiction where the author uses 'You.' 

"When a man with nothing offered to give you something," he said, "you take it."
"You do?"

But, this particular part hit me on all the right spots, I decided to bump my rating. 

The Difficult by Grace Lin — 5 stars
This was so short! I think it would've been better if they made this the opening one. Either way, this is so beautiful I had to wipe away the mist in my eyes. A tale about rising above, compassion. Young readers would love Lingsi and her journey. 

Sol Painting Inc. by Meg Medina — 4 stars
A spectacular, needed story about visibility and racism. I love the family aspects, it's heartwarming. I rated it less than one star because I think there could've more with that ending. 

Secret Samantha by Tim Federle — 3 stars 
This is my second time reading something by Federle. I love his penchant for irony. While I've come to agree I dont think I could ever love—love his stories, I will always find his distinctive voice amusing. Cute story about about making new friends. 

The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist — 4 stars 
A touching story about a Isaiah, a kid who are coping with the death of his father. It also tackles poverty and hope. 

Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle — 2 stars 
Similar to Peña's story, I couldn't relate to this one. But, the young readers, who is the intended readers, would certainly do.

Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson — 5 stars
The people who don't want breaks sometimes get them.
This is a lyrical, heartfelt story about grief. I love it so much. A must read. 

Flying Lessons by Soman Chainanu — 3.5 stars
Two caged birds, searching for a way out.
A fun, summery beach read. A good story when you're soaking in the sun. 

Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents by Kwame Alexander — 3 stars
A story told in verses and poems like setup. I sadly couldn't get into as much as the others. But, I know young readers will dig the fun tone. 

Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push by Walter Dean Myers — 4 stars 
Another heartwarming necessary read about a disabled main protagonist playing basketball.

Overall, this is a short anthology. Highly recommended to middle grade readers and up. 
Profile Image for l..
491 reviews2,136 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
September 16, 2021
a diverse story a day keeps the doctor away

1. how to transform an everyday, ordinary hoop court into a higher place of learning and you at the podium by matt de la peña

2. the difficult path by grace lin — ★★★½
i love love love when nuanced, feminist messages are woven into stories.

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Profile Image for Sara (sarawithoutanH).
512 reviews3,461 followers
February 24, 2017
This was a cute anthology. I didn't do much research before listening to this on audio, so I didn't realize it was middle grade. I don't personally enjoy MG, but I think that it's such an important collection of diverse stories for younger readers. There were so many characters from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, and disabilities. There was a different narrator for each story in the audiobook and I think that added a lot. My favorite story was The Difficult Path by Grace Lin. I honestly wanted it to be a full-length novel.
Profile Image for Mohsen M.B.
226 reviews31 followers
April 12, 2019
کتاب از ۹ تا داستان تشکیل شده که ساده و دوستانه معضلات اجتماعی رو نقد می‌کنند، البته معضلاتی که شاید در جامعه‌ی ما کم‌رنگ‌تر و حتی تابو هستند.ـ مثلاً مشکلات افراد همجنسگرا، بدسرپرستی، اعتیاد به الکل، تبعیض جنسیتی و نژادی، آزار اقلیت‌ها و...ـ
ظاهراً ۳ داستان آخر قراره کامل حذف بشن، امیدوارم بقیه‌اش با کمترین تغییر به‌دست مخاطب برسه.ـ
Profile Image for CW ✨.
669 reviews1,713 followers
January 26, 2018
I loved Flying Lessons and Other Stories. This book was the perfect book to start off 2017 - it filled me with so much joy, reminded me of the ups and downs of youth, and filled me with so much hope -- hope, because kids with marginalized identities may read this book and find themselves in the stories' characters. And I cannot emphasize how important this is - and consequently how this makes Flying Lessons and Other Stories so important and successful.

Within the Flying Lessons and Other Stories anthology are ten outstanding stories by ten incredible talented and authors. Not only was each story told with a genuine and powerful young voice, each story had something meaningful and profound to tell. From family problems, acceptance, being liked, moving away, friendship, to finding your place in the world, Flying Lessons and Other Stories stays true to its audience and explores its themes in a sensitive, thoughtful, and sometimes funny way.

As this is an anthology, here are my thoughts on each story.

How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt de la Peña

How to Transform is a quietly profound story about pursuing dreams and working hard for them, acceptance, and, briefly, the relationship between father and son. It is written in second-person perspective, a narrative style I am not familiar with but it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story at all. In fact, I found myself very engaged with the story.

Despite its length, de la Peña's story captures the drive and perseverance of youth with big, big dreams - in the protagonist's case, it's making it in basketball. I loved how it explored the highs of success and the soul-crushing feeling of failure and rejection, but also how these experiences can become important life lessons. However, How to Transform ends with a very tender and profound scene between the protagonist and his father. An excellent, deeply honest, and empowering story.

The Difficult Path by Grace Lin

I am particularly fond of this one because the characters are Chinese, and how so many things in this short story felt familiar. The Difficult Path is set in China in a time where young girls did not receive education nor learned how to read. However, superstition leads Lingsi to receive an education despite being a servant girl.

The Difficult Path is a lovely story about overcoming hardship, compassion, and having 'valiant spirit'. The portrayal of Ancient China and its traditions were fascinating (but also familiar), but I also liked the subtle tongue-in-cheek tone when describing the Li family. I was caught off guard by the direction that The Difficult Path took, but it was a very pleasant surprise. The ending was absolutely wonderful, and made me wish it was longer -- or even its own book! A powerful story about a resourceful girl and the unexpected place that reading takes her.

Sol Painting Inc. by Meg Medina

This short story seems generally well-liked -- and with good reason. Sol Painting Inc is a powerful story about a girl and her family's painting business, and one incident during her summer.

Sol Painting Inc. had moments of humour - I particularly loved how Merci, the protagonist, described her brother - but it also delves into a lesson that a lot of first-generation immigrant children learn about the sacrifices their parents make. The story also sensitively explores racism, being 'visible', and choosing your battles. The narrative voice in this story was wonderful and made me laugh at times, but Medina balances this with moments that were heartfelt and raw. A heartbreaking and heartwarming story with so many important lessons.

Secret Samantha by Tim Federle

Secret Samantha is a simple and relatable story but is full of charm. It is told through the eyes of Sam, the former new girl, and is about the woes of gift-giving and making new friends - two tasks I have great difficulty doing but they have undeniably high rewards!

I adored the hilarious and earnest shenanigans with the 'Secret Santa', including the tribulations of choosing a gift, the anxiety of buying the right gift - and, may I add, the fact that Sam cared so much about giving the right gift was so endearing and lovely! - as well as the excitement of giving the gift itself. The many similarities and parallels between gift-giving and making a new friend was splendid and much appreciated. On this front, Federle delivered.

The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist

I'll tell you this: The Beans and Rice Chronicles packs an emotional punch. This story is more on the heavier, more heartbreaking side of this anthology, but that in no way diminished my enjoyment of this story. In fact, The Beans and Rice Chronicles is a force of its own - incredibly moving, powerful, and important.

It is about Isaiah Dunn following the death of his father and the small sprouts of hope that can be found in the most unexpected of places. It is about grief, loss, family, poverty, and the power of stories. Told through Isaiah's young eyes, the themes are depicted in a realistic way but also with a degree of innocence. Isaiah possessed so much child wisdom, something that was heartbreaking to read. When Isaiah finds a book of his late father's stories, this lights a spark of hope in Isaiah and his family's life; what follows is nothing short of spectacular.

Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle

Unfortunately, I had difficulty connecting to Choctaw Bigfoot. I listened to the book twice, and after a second reading, I understood it better but I acknowledge that it wasn't written for me -- but I am certain that it'd be loved by the people who it is written for.

Choctaw Bigfoot is a story about a big family and celebrates our storytellers and the power of storytelling. Though most of this story is the uncle's story, Chocktaw Bigfoot highlights the importance of family traditions and how such traditions bring people - not just family! - together. Though it wasn't for me, Choctaw Bigfoot is still a delightful story.

Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson

I didn't expect to love Main Street, but love it I did.

The story is about the gorgeous friendship between, the white narrator, Treetop, and her friend Celeste described as 'tall, brown and beautiful'. The writing is melancholic and emotional, and it subtly explores the different kinds of alienation both girls experience in a town where 'the leaves are the only colour'. Unexpectedly profound that boasts a stunning narrative, Main Street is a story about grief, loneliness, the terrible effect of stereotypes, but also makes room for optimism and longing for a better future.

Flying Lessons by Soman Chainanu

Flying Lessons was my favourite story of this collection. It was full of heart, absolutely delightful, made me laugh, and even had a few moments of bittersweet truths wrapped in solemnity.

The story follows Santosh and what ensues after his nani, his sixty-nine year old grandmother, whisks him away on a holiday. Flying Lessons explored a plethora of themes that I really connected to - success, ambition, the meaning of life for a young student, and what makes life extraordinary. I adored Nani, her hilarious escapades and fierce way of life, but also for her insight and astounding perceptiveness. Flying Lessons delves deeply into a question I always ask myself - what makes you happy? Earnest and whimsical, Flying Lessons was unforgettable and a story I will hold onto for the years to come.

Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents by Kwame Alexander

This story is told in verse and poetry and I enjoyed it so much. When I was younger and grew up with superhero movies like X-Men, I fantasized about having superpowers of my own, so I found Seventy-Six Dollars to be lovely and satisfying.

Told like a memoir, Seventy-Six Dollars is a story about an ordinary boy and the extraordinary thing that happens to him. Monk is the clever protagonist but otherwise ordinary protagonist who can suddenly read other people's minds, and I loved Alexander's writing and voice for him. With funny and witty writing, Seventy-Six Dollars is a lighthearted twist on the quote 'with great power comes great responsibility'.

Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push by Walter Dean Myers

The anthology was dedicated to the late Walter Dean Myers, who believed that "young people need to see ... themselves reflected in the pages of the books they read." Ending this anthology with a short story of his own made the anthology as whole so much more powerful.

This story by him is a powerful story with themes of family, guilt, and grief. It features a protagonist with a disability, how he joins the wheelchair basketball league, and how his father, plagued with guilt, helps coach his basketball team. Readers will connect to this story, as it explores the enduring hope parents have for their children. The story and narrative is simple, but that's what made the story all the more profound and meaningful.

All in all, Flying Lessons is an outstanding anthology and, more importantly, it has a small piece for everyone.

Rating: 4.5/5

This review can also be found on my book blog, Read, Think, Ponder!
Profile Image for Jacquelyn.
444 reviews203 followers
February 5, 2017
I think that no matter what my rating of this book is, that this is an important read, especially for kidlit. I think it's awesome to see more diverse stories (whether that's based off ethnicity, religion, disability, sexuality, race, etc.) targeted at smaller kids. I think that's amazing because when I was a young child looking for books, I never saw books like this. The industry has come a long way and still has a lot of work to do from here.

How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court nto a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt de la Peña
3.5/5 stars

I liked this one since it had to do with basketball, my favorite sport and something I truly connect with. I thought the overall message was well presented and something a lot of people could learn.

The Difficult Path by Grace Lin
2/5 stars

This one was super strange and I'm not even sure I understood what was going on or the message of this one. This was one of my least favorites in this collection.

Sol Painting, Inc. by Meg Medina
3/5 stars

This one was pretty good. Interesting premise and I liked how it revolved a lot around family and relationships with siblings, etc. *However*, I did have a problem with one of the sentences in here and found it to be very problematic. The sentence was, "It's kind of cool to be blind for a few minutes." I found this sentence to be extremely irritating and hurtful, especially to people who are actually blind. I just wanted to point that out, since this is a book based upon diversity and celebrating people's differences.

Secret Samantha by Tim Federle
4/5 stars

Super cute story that takes place in a school and has to do with making new friends who are different than yourself.

The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist
4/5 stars

A really interesting story surrounding grief, family dynamics, and the effects alcoholism can have on a family with young children. I really enjoyed this story; I would have liked to read this in an extended version.

Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle
2/5 stars

This one was sort of weird. I liked that it was about Indian nations and such but the way it was told was a little weird and I think this was told in too short of a story length. Maybe if it was longer I would have enjoyed it more.

Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson
4/5 stars

This was another one of my favorites. I really liked the setting and the values of friendship and racial diversity. I would have loved to read a full book following this main character.

Flying Lessons by Soman Chainani
4/5 stars

I liked this one a lot! It was a fun setting and I liked the overall story and message. Great story!

Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents by Kwame Alexander
4/5 stars

This one was written in verse which was so fun! It was super quick and engaging and I thought the overall premise was cute. I liked this one a lot - it may have been my favorite.

Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push by Walter Dean Myers
3.5/5 stars

This was another enjoyable story that featured representation of characters with disabilities. The main character plays basketball and is in a wheelchair and I thought this one was pretty eye opening and I enjoyed seeing a portrayal of my favorite sport from someone who has a disability.
Profile Image for Lesley Burnap.
458 reviews6 followers
August 3, 2016
A must read for everyone! Kids, maybe, grade 5+. Many voices represented here. Hope to read more from We Need Diverse Books-maybe even stories for much younger readers?
Profile Image for Chelsea slytherink.
288 reviews411 followers
April 11, 2017
review also posted on Wordpress! spoiler-free review!

Flying Lessons and Other Stories is probably the first anthology I have ever read. As expected, I wanted more from each story, but I enjoyed them all nonetheless! This anthology features diverse stories written by diverse authors and I plan to read more books by them. It definitely focusses on diversity of ethnicity and race, which is great. But diversity also means LGBTQIAP+, mental health... representation and there wasn't enough of that.

I absolutely love how all these stories were heart-warming and positive. The experiences of a child of colour are probably different from those of white children, but that doesn't mean all these stories have to deal with racism and bullying. So make sure to get this anthology in the hands children!

I'm going to discuss each story separately. I really liked the writing styles and how distinct they all were! Normally, I'm not the biggest fan of middle grade novels because the characters sound juvenile, but that wasn't the case in Flying Lessons and Other Stories! The writing was understandable for children, yet enjoyable for adults as well.

1. How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt de la Peña

The main character in this story is Mexican American. The writing style was very unusual: 2nd person perspective and mostly future tense. But it totally worked and I was sad when it ended so soon!

2. The Difficult Path by Grace Lin

The Difficult Path is probably the one that made me want more the most. I'd definitely read a full length fantasy or historical fiction novel by this author. It seems to take place in Asia, though I don't remember whether that was exactly specified. Perhaps it took place in Taiwan, where the author's parents are from.

3. Sol Painting, Inc. by Meg Medina

This short story features Latinx representation. was a bit disappointed because I thought there was a mystery element going on - I had the feeling as if the brother didn't go to that school, because of the way he behaved - but that wasn't the case.

4. Secret Samantha by Tim Federle

Secret Samantha was one of my favourite short stories!

5. The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist

I also very much enjoyed this one, but it was too short!

6. Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle

It's an absolute shame that this was probably the first fiction story I've read featuring Native Americans (Choctaw, to be more specific). Therefore, I really wanted to love it, but I couldn't follow the story. Because a tale was told by a family member, it was mostly tell instead of show. I also had a hard time remaining concentrated during the action-packed scenes.

Having said that, as soon as I finished Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains, I did some research to find out more about Choctaw. So the author definitely succeeded in motivating people to read more stories about Indigenous people.

7. Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson

Main Street is about a girl who's mother passed away from cancer and who's best friend is black. Even though I thought it was too short, I really liked some of the things that were mentioned (e.g. about white people touching a black woman's hair and how that's not okay), so I'm very interested to read more by this author. At first, I thought it was odd to have a white characters discuss racism, but somehow, it worked just fine.

8. Flying Lessons by Soman Chainani

Even though I didn't think Flying Lessons was the best short story in this anthology, it certainly is the one I remember the most. So maybe I did love it more than I'd thought. It features Indian representation (and maybe queer representation?). Even at 22 years old, I related to the protagonist. I'm as afraid as him to make friends. I had tears in my eyes.

But I had some problems with the language that was used. Some if it seemed iffy:
- "It's like a chromosome of fun I didn't get". I instantly thought of Down syndrome when I read this description, so I really think the author could've used a better way to express that the protagonist doesn't have fun often.
- "g*psy bangles" I'm absolutely not certain whether this is offensive, but I do know that g*psy is considered a slur. I don't know whether it's harmful in this context, but I wanted to warn you nonetheless.

9. Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents by Kwame Alexander

I really liked the way this was written, but there was a bit of blackmailing going on and I didn't like that. Hopefully, that part of the story wasn't real, as the protagonist said he took some liberties with the truth.

10. Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push by Walter Dean Myers

This story features a disabled character. It was very short! I don't know whether it was because of the writing or the pacing, but I sometimes struggled with knowing what was going on.

Conclusion: Flying Lessons and Other Stories is an anthology filled with diverse short stories. It has given me hope that I shouldn't give up on middle grade novels, as I absolutely loved the writing style in this one. I plan on re-reading this in the future, as I honestly have already forgotten what most stories were about (as you can tell by my "reviews"). But I definitely want to read full-length novels by most of the featured authors!

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Profile Image for Bruna Miranda.
Author 9 books765 followers
February 15, 2019
Fazia tempo que queria ler esse livro e finalmente peguei por causa do desafio de um livro por dia durante Fevereiro. É realmente um livro fácil de ler em um dia porque os contos são bem pequenos, alguns até pequenos demais porque eu queria ter mais detalhes e desenvolvimento.

Antes de ler eu achava que o livro era YA, mas ele foca em middle grade e infantil. O livro tem personagens latinos, negros, asiáticos (chinês e indiano), indígena, PcD. É o tipo de diversidade que há anos queremos ver mais. Esse livro foi lançado com apoio da We Need Diverse Books, uma organização focada em trabalhar e aumentar a diversidade na literatura para jovens, então dá pra ver por que deu tão certo.

O motivo de eu não dar uma nota maior pra esse livro é porque ele tem alguns trechos que eu fiquei com um pé atrás (uma ~brincadeira~ de chantagem entre um menino e uma menina porque ele queria segurar a mão dela porque gostava dela; final "triste" pra personagens queer) e alguns contos são curtos demais MESMO e acabou tirando um pouco do gosto da leitura. Porém, não dá pra ignorar que todas as histórias aqui são muito interessantes no seu próprio jeito e o conjunto da obra pode ter um ótimo impacto para crianças e adolescentes que nunca se viram em histórias assim.

Meus favoritos foram Flying Lessons e Secret Samantha. O conto do Kwame Alexander é escrito em verso, como outros livros dele, e é sempre uma delícia ouvir um audiobook de livro em verso e o do Tim Tingle tem muitas referências e ambientação na cultura indígena (Choctaw) e fiquei empolgada em conhecer o autor.

No fim, vale a leitura curtinha. :)
Profile Image for Meg - A Bookish Affair.
2,445 reviews203 followers
January 6, 2017
4.5 stars. One of the things that initially got me into reading as a youngster was the ability that books had to let me see through new eyes and walk that proverbial mile in someone else's shoes. I think it is so important for everyone but for children and teenagers to have access to a wide variety of books that reflect all different walks of life and experience. That is just one reason that I am such a big supporter of the "We Need Diverse Books" movement. It's an important step forward for the book industry and I'm happy to see anthologies like this come out to take the movement forward!

If you read middle grade fiction, it is easy to see that the line up of authors included in the book is truly a powerhouse. Each author brings their own unique voice to the collection. I had two favorite stories in the book. First, I loved the story about a boy who finds a fantastical story that his father secretly wrote about the boy and the boy takes the idea and turns it into a story for a story contest. My other favorite was about a boy who gets dragged to Europe by his crazy grandmother and discovers how to break out of his shell.

There is a lot to love about this collection. All of the stories are incredibly different and will introduce readers to memorable characters. If you don't know some of these authors already, it will also introduce you to some of the brightest voices in middle grade fiction today. This is a great collection and one that I know that I will be recommending a lot. It would make a great gift for the middle graders in your life.
Profile Image for Kelly.
889 reviews4,126 followers
August 11, 2018
Released under the "We Need Diverse Books" imprint, and it does an excellent job proving once again why that statement could not be more urgently true. Many of these stories were about coming of age, starting to take on more mature responsibilities while at the same time coming to terms with a more mature, less rosy-colored understanding of the world. All of the stories dealt with differing cultural perspectives, cross-cultural cooperation/meetings/misunderstandings and what it's like to have to both be a kid and negotiate the extra difficulties of living that come with living in a culture that is not sufficiently built to understand or support you. I personally found "Difficult Path," "Sol Painting," "Secret Samantha," "The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn" and the title story "Flying Lessons," the most affecting, but different readers will likely resonate to different stories, and that's the whole point of the collection.

This was the summer read for the middle school kids I teach, and I'm looking forward to having a lot of great discussions with them. There's a ton to dig into. Highly recommended for all middle-school aged kids, or perhaps even some HS freshmen or precocious, advanced reading late elementary kids, with adult previewing of the stories and help processing their message/content.
Profile Image for David Naiman.
Author 2 books64 followers
January 11, 2018
Some submissions read like short stories and others like an early chapter in a book, but all have an interesting story and perspective to share. Well done by all.
Profile Image for Marie.
102 reviews15 followers
April 6, 2019
4,5 stars.
I loved all the stories except one...
I just couldn’t finish “Choctaw Bigfoor, Midnight in the Mountains” 😅
Profile Image for The Reading Countess.
1,758 reviews59 followers
February 27, 2017
This is a book that must be read-by parents, students, teachers...Having taught in a myriad of teaching environments, I can assure that students who look in the mirror as they turn the pages of Flying Lessons and Other Stories AS WELL AS (or perhaps, ESPECIALLY) the students who DO NOT reflect the characters in the pages of the short stories. For, as Walter Dean Myers said in his eloquent essay more than twenty-five years ago, "If we continue to make black children nonpersons by excluding them from books and degrading the black experience, and if we continue to neglect white children by not exposing them to any aspect of other racial and ethnic experiences in a meaningful way, we will have a next racial crisis."

My favorite stories were by Matt de la Pena (an often silent father speaks loudly to his son one summer), Meg Medina (a young girl learns that her outspoken dad pipes down to help elevate his daughter's lot in life), Kelly J. Baptist (a father's early exit from a young man's life doesn't necessarily mean that it's the end of their story together), Jacqueline Woodson (a poetic narrative-what else would you expect from her-about how friendships crumble and are built based solely on one's skin color), and Soman Chainani (a touching story about a high-achieving son and his wild, fun-loving grandmother who discover on vacation that they are birds of a feather).

Yes, everyone needs to read these stories no matter who you are. But I'd like to change what I said initially...If you are a human, you actually will see yourself reflected in the pages.

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Melissa Williams.
23 reviews6 followers
June 26, 2017
I would give some of these stories 5 stars. Others, I would give 4. One or two, I might give 3 stars, but that is mostly because they just don't fit my personal taste in style and subject.
There are 10 stories by 10 diverse authors in this collection, and by and large, it's excellent. I learned of this book by following We Need Diverse Books. This title is our school's "All Middle School Read" this summer. The entire middle school: students and faculty will read the book, and then we will do something to celebrate the book in the fall. There is a scarcity of short story collections for middle school readers and an even greater scarcity of short story collections for middle grade readers by diverse authors, making this an especially valuable book for libraries and classrooms. Many of the stories have a wistful or sorrowful element, but most have humor interlaced with the sadness. Some are just plain hilarious, especially "Flying Lessons." One reads a bit like fantasy in places, another is almost entirely folk tale, and the rest are realistic fiction. One quibble I have is the number of stories involving African American boys playing basketball. In going for diversity, diversity of interests and experiences within the lives depicted would be beneficial so as not to give the impression that all African American boys love basketball, for example. It's not a crucial detraction from the book, in my opinion, but I noted it.
Profile Image for Laela.
812 reviews20 followers
March 8, 2017
It's hard to find a good short story book. They aren't put out as much as they used to be. I was was delighted to find this book and will be eager to share it with readers in the future.

I liked each of the stories. Some more than others. Kwame Alexander's story stole the show for me. Samantha Quan was also a strong contender. Those stories I wanted to go and on.

I think it could have been edited better. The flow of the book was off putting in parts.
277 reviews
January 23, 2022
Ahhh this was so diverse and beautiful and captivating, thank you to my brilliant creative writing teacher for recommending this! This book featured some marvelous rep, from mental health to disability to ethnicity to sexuality, and I think that any middle-grader-or anyone of any age-would greatly benefit by reading these unique, beautiful stories. Some are funny, others bittersweet, but they all encapsulate many different aspects of life and illuminate many perspectives; I really appreciate the work of Ellen Oh for putting this together and I think if you're looking for a quick, charming read that you can see yourself and countless others in, this is for you.
Profile Image for Leeanna.
538 reviews93 followers
January 3, 2017
This review is also on my blog, Leeanna.me.


FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES is a short but powerful anthology of diverse stories by diverse authors. Really, these stories could fit into any anthology, because the themes -- sibling relationships, first crushes, friendship, etc -- are universal. But these stories are extra important for young readers (and old!) who might not see themselves reflected in many books and stories.

The stories in FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES span a range of voices from a boy on vacation with his eccentric grandmother to a disabled basketball player to Sam, who’s awed by/wants to know the new girl at school. I would’ve liked to read longer versions of every story in the anthology, which for me, was a sign of each author’s success at pulling me into their characters’ lives in a handful of pages. I’m a greedy reader -- I always want more when I get invested in characters.

The opening story, “How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium” was a bit of an outlier at first for me. Unlike the others, it’s written from the second-person POV. But after I got further into the book, I personally took Matt de la Peña’s story as a way to open my mind. Grace Lin’s story about a Chinese girl sold into slavery who escapes her fate in an unusual way… I definitely want a book about Lingsi! And Meg Medina’s “Sol Painting, Inc.” hurt my heart for Merci and Papi. “Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains” was the one story that I didn’t understand.

I didn’t find any of the stories too preachy or heavy-handed with messages. The kids are kids, doing their thing, and hopefully along the way, they’ll show the rest of us how to be more tolerant and open-minded of others who have different backgrounds/viewpoints than us. A great book for the intended middle-grade audience and adults too!


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration; this did not influence my review in any way.

See more of my reviews:
Profile Image for Diana.
835 reviews95 followers
March 8, 2021
***DISCLAIMER: This review contains an overuse of the word "Different."***

You know what's great about anthologies? It's all these different stories written by different authors with different view points, different lives, different writing styles, different ideas coming together to create one book.
Much like it's readers, we all have different stories, different backgrounds, different view points, different experiences, even different opinions of this book alone.

This is a great collection of stories to emphasizes that there is more than what we know of the world and the people in our lives. Even if they're just in our lives for a passing moment.

The characters in these ten stories are absolutely authentic. Whoever they might be there is someone out there that will see themselves in one of these characters. And if they don't that's even better, because they will see into the lives of someone else.

This is perfect for kids of all ages, like any good book should it will open them up to a new world (their own, actually) and show them life from another perspective. All while subtly making a good point and maybe teaching something in the end.

We come from different places, we're all going different places but if that wasn't true we'd be stuck in a very dull book with the exact same story playing over and over.
The world is an anthology and we're all contributing our story to it.
Profile Image for Brittany.
725 reviews25 followers
April 3, 2017
So, I have been a little distracted with my reading lately. I coach two sports in the spring, so I have small snippets of free time. This book was perfect for that. They stories were by some of my favorite authors and I kept looking forward to the next, great one.

One that really stood out for me was Woodson's "Main Street." Her story of a young girl, growing up as the only minority in her small town in the Northeast had me reminiscing about Full Cicada Moon. Her protagonist's voice was powerful and impactful, yet gentle and it was incredibly well done. I hope to use it during my civil rights unit next year. She's just such an emotive author.

Young men who are super fans of Matt de la Pena and Walter Dean Myers will love their contributions with language that resonates with every teenager.

A fabulous anthology, especially for teachers. I will use this book often in my classroom.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
January 16, 2018
Ten short stories pitched primarily to middle graders, this collection features some of the best writers out there, including Kwame Alexander, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson. Teen readers will be impressed at the versatility and diversity represented here as the stories cover quite a lot of ground. My personal favorites are "How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher learning and You at the Podium" by Matt de la Pena,"The Difficult Path" by Grace Lin, and "Sol Painting, Inc." and Kwame Alexander's "Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents." I won't spoil the pleasure of finding out for yourself why these stand out, but I will say each story will change its readers and help them see parts of the world and those around them in a slightly different way. As the book comes to a close, you may be wishing like me that there were more publishers willing to support short story collections and more stories in this collection.
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