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3.36  ·  Rating details ·  7,727 ratings  ·  1,467 reviews

When sixteen-year-old Brent Bishop inadvertently causes the death of a young woman, he is sent on an unusual journey of repentance, building wind toys across the land.

In his most ambitious novel to date, Newbery winner Paul Fleischman traces Brent's healing pilgrimage from Washington State to California, Florida, and Maine, and describes the many lives set into new motion

Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 9th 1999 by Laurel Leaf (first published May 15th 1998)
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Cara's Craftsations “It was a girl playing a harp, like in an orchestra. It was in this tree at our campsite. And since it was breezy weather that weekend, the girl's arm…more“It was a girl playing a harp, like in an orchestra. It was in this tree at our campsite. And since it was breezy weather that weekend, the girl's arms were almost always turning.” (less)

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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,727 ratings  ·  1,467 reviews

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Kaitlyn Adams
Dec 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: english-420
I really, really disliked this book. Whirligig is about a teenager named Brent who decides to kill himself after a popular girl rejects him at a party. He drives drunk and ends up killing an young girl instead. The girl's mother asks Brent to go build memorial whirligigs for her daughter at the four corners of the United States. In the process, Brent rediscovers meaning and purpose in his own life. I hated the book mostly because I have zero empathy for the plight of a sad white boy who feels en ...more
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Wow, I find all the mixed and/or negative reviews of this book shocking. I LOVED it. I thought it was beautifully written, poignant, and nearly impossible to put down.

Seventeen (or maybe 16) year old Brent has moved around a lot. He never feels comfortable anywhere. He's constantly trying to figure out the lay of the land -- what clothes are cool, who the cool kids are, how to create the perfect image. Brent is just starting to figure it all out at his new school when he goes to a party he's not
Emily Bond
Feb 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Fleischman limits his characters to stereotypical roles and trajectories... also just a lot of bad writing. Really a crime that it’s being taught in American schools
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: y-a
This is the framework of a great little story with a lot of potential, but it's too bad the author didn't flesh it out more. I read it in two sittings, and I'm a slow reader, so there just isn't enough detail or development to bring the book to life in the way it deserves.

Nonetheless, it is a fine story: high schooler Brent Bishop seems like a bit of a tool; drunk and full of self-pity one night after a party, he tries to kill himself in his car on the highway but ends up killing a young woman i
William Lu
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book Whirligig by Paul Fleischman reminded me of the book Restart by Gordan Korman. Both of these books tell a story of someone who loses their memory and wishes to change their past. Although Whirligig was very different from what I like to read in my spare time, I enjoyed the book immensely because of the contrast and surprising details that the author had dropped in just for the reader to stay engaged.
Dec 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Genre/Category: Social Issues/ Bildungsroman

Whirligig is a beautiful story about how all mankind is connected and how everything we do can have a significant impact on others that we may never even meet. After accidentally killing a teenage girl, Lea, in a car accident while attempting to kill himself, Brent Bishop finds himself on a road to repentance which includes building whirligigs in honor of Lea in the four corners of the United States. As Brent travels, he meets people and who change his
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is a great example of how our actions effect other people, especially those we never meet.

It starts with Brent killing Lea, the first in a series of actions that effect others. As Brent travels and builds the whirligigs in Lea's memory he grows and changes. Part of the reason the book is such a great read is that every other chapter is not about Brent but about the effect his work has on others when they see his whirligigs. These people range in ages and locations, but are tied togethe
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Since the book was required to read, and we were constantly doing assignments on it, my ability to enjoy the book was somewhat impaired. However, I did still find it fairly interesting. I felt that it was a little harder for me personally to relate to the main character since he was in high school, but anyone who is or has been in high school will be able to easily relate to some of the emotions and thoughts he has. Though kind of melancholy and depressing, the plotline is interesting and kept m ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Whirligig? More like NO. STOP. WHY.
(I should have a review up about this book sometime soon ish aka three months later)
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Very short, which makes each stitched-together story even shorter. The vignettes are more like anecdotes, and the characters more like types. The beginning was especially awful and I almost put the book down. And though I loved the street-sweeper who thought he wanted to be a shearwater, I don't know when he saw a whirligig.

Glad I read it, and glad I didn't spend too much time on it.
Jennie Smith
Sep 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Brent Bishop is a typical new kid. He is worried about his status in the school and wants desperately to have the popular Brianna on his arm and goes to great lengths to make that happen, including putting himself out there at a party. Brianna, however, has other ideas about her life and Brent suffers public humiliation after she rejects him in front of everyone at the party. Brent leaves the party after he has been drinking and decides that life isn’t worth it anymore and decides to end his lif ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
Though many elements made this seem like a dated read (most salient: Brent's GQ-inspired slicked back hair, single-lobe earring, and his buddy's intentionally torn-up jeans) the primary themes of the necessity of confronting the consequences of one's rash actions and the redemptive and transformative nature of a selfless journey remained poignant and effective throughout the narrative. Initially, I had a hard time buying into Brent's existential angst which led to his suicide attempt. The circum ...more
Dec 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing

I loved this book. It's a quick read, but one packed with insight, emotion, and inspiration. I can't imagine being in Brent's shoes, having killed a girl while trying to commit suicide, but his journey is touching. I admire his need for restitution and his willingness to go all over the country building whirligigs. I think one of the most touching aspects of this book was the mother's willingness to forgive. All she asked was for Brent to build and plant four
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: one day easy read book readers
Recommended to Cowlover129 by: teacher
I thought this book was extremely shallow and I didn't like how Bret was able to go on an adventure rather than pay the price for his crime. He is a spoiled brat who never really pays a price for what he did and that BUGS me!!! ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved. Simply could not set it down.
Julia C
Nov 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Picking up this book, it looked different but I thought "don't judge a book by it’s cover". Before this book, I read Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard by Mawi Asgedom and loved it. Whirligig by Paul Fleischman was in the same section on the book shelf as Of Beetles and Angels, so I thought, maybe, just maybe, this book will be as good. Well, I was wrong. The first twenty or so pages were good. As I kept reading, I realized it was a mistake, but I di ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first time I heard of this story was when my school performed the debut of the play Whirligig, based on this book. I hadn't read it or heard of it before. But it's a story that has had an effect on my life and on the life of those at my school. This book is wonderful, full of lessons and pages that make me want to cry. The main character in this book sets out to build whirligigs in the four corners of the US to find forgiveness for accidentally killing a young girl in a car accident. The sto ...more
Anna G.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Whirligig was an interesting novel by Paul Fleischman about a high schooler named Brent who kills a young woman in a drunk driving accident while trying to commit suicide. His punishment is is to set up whirligigs at the four corners of the country, in Washington, Maine. Florida, and California to help reserve the image of Lea, the girl he killed. The book follows Bret's experiences and his journey to put up all four of the whirligigs across the country, as well as the valuable life lessons he l ...more
Maddie H.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Whirligig by Paul Fleischman tells the story of Brent, a teenager who is affected by a tragic accident, which leads him to a quest of putting four whirligigs across the United States. But unlike what I thought the book would be, the book is not entirely based off of the actions and story of Brent. After reading only the first chapter, I was scanning the second chapter, because I was intrigued to see what happened. I was very confused to find a completely different story. But after reading the se ...more
So there's this kid Brent. Brent has a crush on Briana, the popular chick at school. Brent is invited to a party. Briana is there. Brent is rejected by Briana at this party. Brent decides this is a sufficient reason to commit suicide. Brent tries to kill himself by getting in a car crash but instead kills a girl named Lea. Lea's parents are kind. They tell Brent that if he builds four whirligigs (whatever the heck those are) and puts them up at the four corners of the USA, they won't send him to ...more
K.R. Patterson
Feb 20, 2009 rated it liked it
I think this book would have been better if I had not listened to it. I think I missed some important parts. Also some of the people really annoyed me, and I think it was because of their voices. It was good, though... meaningful and pretty well written. I had expectations that things were going to come together differently at the end, so I was a bit thrown off when it was over.
Kelsey Rogers
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was much better than I was expecting. Maybe because I have to teach it to my 9th graders, so I was required to read it, and I hate all required reading. It starts out a little slow, but the real emotions Brent and the other characters experience drew me in and got me hooked on the story.

I think this book is important for high schoolers to read, especially in the wake of 13 Reasons Why and other stories which romanticize suicide. The message “actions have consequences” is something I t
Kate Stericker
I did not have super high expectations for this book, mostly because I impulsively bought it during an Audible sale, but it blew me away with its complexity and heart. I'd say it's like a middle grade Cloud Atlas, but, since this book came out first, Cloud Atlas is actually an adult Whirligig. ...more
Jun 08, 2017 added it
An interesting, meaningful book.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The front cover of Whirligig says "actions have consequences." Brent Bishop has committed a crime and now is on a cross-country trip of restitution building whirligigs. The chapters alternate between Brent's journey of discovery and the journeys of people in need who happen upon his whirligigs. The whirligigs bring hope to these people. Will they also help Brent heal? I love how Fleishman intertwines the experiences of his characters with Brent's journey. This is a quick, but meaningful read. ...more
Tracy Lin
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this book for school external, it's really good :) ...more
Denise Spicer
Dec 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
I have had this book for years. I think I bought it at a rummage sale because it had a weirdly intriguing cover. After reading some reviews I decided not to read it because it sounds depressing.
Molly Holsinger
i’ve read this book before- more than once i believe- yet somehow felt i was reading it for the first time today. short and sweet, precisely written to tug at your heartstrings. a reminder that our actions extend beyond what we can see and that no matter our mistakes, we can be good people.
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: try it, you might like it.
Recommended to estefania. by: Ms. Mann
Shelves: 2nd-quarter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California. The son of well-known children's novelist Sid Fleischman, Paul was in the unique position of having his famous father's books read out loud to him by the author as they were being written. This experience continued throughout his childhood.
Paul followed in his father's footsteps as an author of books for young readers, and in 1982 he released

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