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The Boy Who Could Fly

(The Loblolly Boy #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  61 reviews
A young boy lives in an orphanage that is completely surrounded by a thick wall. Every day, he wishes he were free. He wishes he had a new life. And then he meets the loblolly boy, who is strange, mysterious and who promises the young boy that he can teach him how to fly - as he himself can, with his green, feathery wings.  In teaching the boy how to fly, however, the lobl ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by EgmontUSA (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  229 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Kathleen Dixon
I read the 3rd book in this series first. It can stand alone, but despite having only given it 3 stars I wanted to read the first (this one). So I've just now gone back and given 4 stars to The Pirates and the Nightmaker, as obviously I liked it more than I thought (Yes, I know that sounds strange).

This book had me a little confused to start with, and that is purely because I read the 3rd first. The thing is, the 3rd is set in the past, in the time of buccaneers and the Spanish vs the English et
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Ideiosepius
A very fun, nicely done children's book about what happens to Michael, a boy in an orphanage where he wishes he was somewhere else: A mysterious boy, strangely dressed appears to him and tells him he is 'the Loblolly boy' also, he can fly. This would let Michael fly over the high walls of the orphanage and escape. He is not told that this means an 'exchange' with the Loblolly boy staying behind as Michael and he does not pause to wonder why the Loblolly boy would want that.

This is a lovely gentl
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a re-read. I read it a few years ago. It is the story of a boy named Michael who meets the strange character of the Lobolly boy. Michael wants to escape his life in the orphanage, so he switches bodies with the Lobolly boy.

There were a few things that I liked about the book, like how the author portrays the town in England, but most points were not good.

I felt like the personalities of the twins in the book were similar, so it did not give enough character distinction to them. Also, I fe
Rants and Bants
Very unique book and concept! The writing was a little awkward in some places, but all in all, it was a good story. And like with Wonder, I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot if I’d read it as a kid. It sort of reminded me a little of The Lovely Bones, only a LOT better.
Ashnika Sami
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i vaguely remember this book from years ago but i remember reading it felt like an out of body experience and i cannit find it anywhere in the world
Anne Hamilton
Red is miserable. A loner, desperate to known about life beyond the wall of the Great House, he is too afraid of the Keepers and their giant mastiff dogs to risk breaking the rules. Then he meets the loblolly boy, a creature invisible to most people, and possessed of the saddest eyes as well as the most glorious feather wings.

The loblolly boy promises to teach Red to fly; then tricks him into exchanging identities. Revelling in his new-found freedom and power, red soars off, mysteriously drawn t
Anne Hamilton
Red is miserable. A loner, desperate to known about life beyond the wall of the Great House, he is too afraid of the Keepers and their giant mastiff dogs to risk breaking the rules. Then he meets the loblolly boy, a creature invisible to most people, and possessed of the saddest eyes as well as the most glorious feather wings.

The loblolly boy promises to teach Red to fly; then tricks him into exchanging identities. Reveling in his new-found freedom and power, red soars off, mysteriously drawn to
Michael lives in an orphanage and lives a miserable life. He desperately wants to get out. The orphanage is surrounded by a high brick wall so he knows nothing about what goes on outside of those walls. Also, the wardens and the viscious guard dogs makes escape impossible. One day Michael meets a stranger called the loblolly boy who can fly. He convinces Michael to trade places with him.....and Michael sees this as his chance to escape the orphanage. So, the loblolly boys teaches Michael how to ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Lynn Crow for

Michael lives a miserable existence in the strict orphanage he calls home, until the day he meets the loblolly boy.

At first amused by the boy's insistence that he can fly, Michael is awed when he sees the boy's wings, and agrees to learn to fly, too. When, by magic, he and the loblolly boy switch places, he's only too happy to flee the orphanage and thrill in the freedom of flight.

But Michael soon discovers there are plenty of disadvantages to life as a
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
For as long as Michael can remember he has lived within the high walls containing the Great House and its gardens. It would have been a wonderful place, were it not for the teasing from the other children, the berating from the Keepers, and the disgusting food forced upon him; not to mention the vicious dogs.

Just like Peter Pan he appeared all dressed in green with promises of flying and freedom. Michael had thought the Loblolly Boy had come to rescue him, instead he found he had become the Lobl
Katelyn Mendoza-Weiss
"The Boy Who Could Fly" is a book about an orphaned child, Michael, like any ordinary kid, wishes he could fly away. The prologue of this book, I think does a good job at luring people in. There is a boy by name of Ben who is moving out of his house with his dad and step-mother. He does not like his step-mother and wishes that he could get away and not have to worry about it. What drew me in to the novel, was not necessarily that I could relate to boy's exact story, but that I could relate to hi ...more
Haley Smith
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is about a orphaned boy named Michael who just wants to leave from the place he has called home. All he wants to be is free and he got just what he wanted when a loblolly boy came along and switched with him. Michael soared through the air and was invisible. He was the loblolly boy now. At first Michael enjoyed it, but soon finds that it can be a terrible thing. The new loblolly boy met a old captain by the name of Captain Bass. Captain Bass has a telescope that tells what can happen ...more
Philippa Elvy
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers of upper primary to read aloud; children 10-12; parents to read aloud to children 8-12.
This story, ostensibly for upper primary school aged children, is a delight. At this level it is a fantasy in which the longed-for impossible occurs - children fly on wings - they can remain invisible to the human eye as they escape their irksome everyday reality. Yet, like much of the best children's literature, there is another level which holds appeal and rings true for the adult reader - the development of an idea which is summed up by the saying, "Out of the fryingpan and into the fire". Th ...more
Nhayima Chuula
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I would rate this book a four star book because it was really good but it could have been better. This is a story of a boy called Michael who is an orphan. Everyday he wishes he could be free and fly over the towers. He meets a boy who grants him his wish. He goes through many things and he gets the power of flight, which is cool. He gets to fly but he loses touch with everything that makes him human. There are many positives in this book such as everything he goes through when he loses his hum ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Did you ever wish you could fly? What if the cost of having wings was becoming invisible to everyone else – permanently? That’s the conundrum the loblolly boy finds himself in. He has escaped his lonely, melancholy existence at an orphanage by soaring away on beautiful green wings; but he soon discovers that he is even lonelier than before because nobody except old Captain Bass can see or hear him. Or can they?

Follow Michael on his funny, dangerous, surprising, and sometimes sad journey as he le
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Boy Who Could Fly was, at times, a bit confused. As if Norcliffe, an award winning poet, had a hard time distancing himself from the beauty of the verse. Still, the story was so completely original and wholly unpredictable, I thought it deserved more than just an "I Liked It" rating.

The Boy Who Could Fly tells the story of the loblolly boy - a boy who is invisible to most of the world around him, has giant green wings and has the ability to trade his existence for another. But as Captain Ba
Maree Kimberley
A great book for kids aged around 9-12 years full of mystery and adventure. The messages of "be careful what you wish for" and "the grass is always greener on the other side" are not pushed too hard, and, although the identity-swapping is quite complex, it's easy to follow. I loved all the characters, and the mix of fantasy in a real world setting worked really well. My only minor quibble with the plot is that it was set in contemporary times yet the main character was a virtual prisoner in a ch ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it
An interesting story. A boy who lives in an orphanage soon befriends a boy who seems magical. He can appear suddenly and fly whenever he wants to. Wanting to escape the orphanage, the boy trades places with the flying boy and soon discovers he now is the Loblolly Boy. Being invisible to most, not being able to eat are just a few of the things he discovers aren't as much fun as he thought they'd be. After meeting an old man who tells him about his predicament, Loblolly Boy soon finds himself on a ...more
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A quick and simple fable about an orphan tricked into trading bodies with the Loblolly Boy, a winged creature invisible to most people--very tempting freedoms at first glance to a kid living in a bad situation--and then, when he discovers how lonely it is, faced with the choice of whether to stay in this ghost-like state forever, or to become human again by tricking someone else into trading with him, condemning them to the same isolated existence. A good story for younger readers about the 'gra ...more
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Missmath144 by: Erin Lally
Shelves: fantasy, jfic
This New Zealand publication will be released in the U.S. as The Boy Who Could Fly. The Loblolly Boy can fly, but he cannot be seen by most people (except for sensitives) and he cannot eat. It's a lonely life, so the Loblolly Boy tries to find a human who is so miserable that he is willing to change places with him. Trouble is that if someone is that miserable, the new life the Loblolly boy takes on will be that miserable life.

It's a story about the frying pan and the fire. It's a story about fi
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This is a bizarre book. It took me a while to get into the story but I'm glad I kept reading.

Who as a child didn't have dreams of being able to fly away from all their troubles? This is a story that shows us that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.


Borrowed an ARC of this book from a friend.
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This book was fantastic. That's it. Fantastic, A new world. I'm so happy I picked this up at the library, especially after some disappointments(books I didn't even care to finish). The Loblolly boy is a story everybody should get the chance to read. I read this book straight through and the story really remind you to appriciate what you have and think that yoú're not very unlucky. One of the best books I've read in a really long time.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure if this story is based on anything, but if it wasn’t, then it is very original. This is a fresh concept that I don’t think I’ve read before in any story. I also have never read a book taking place in New Zealand before, so that was a nice different setting. I will definitely read this book again one day, especially since it sits proudly up on my bookshelf. The characters, plot, and theme were all interesting and unique. It’s a bizarre, quirky tale, in a good way.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A boy in an orphanage meets a Loblolly boy, a boy who can fly and is invisible to most people. The Loblolly boy tricks him into trading places. At first he enjoys being a Loblolly boy, but soon discovers the downside. The only way to become human again is to Exchange lives with someone. But how? A nice fantasy story with twists and turns and a nice moral at the end.
Angela Kidd Shinozaki
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
What boy or girl wouldn't love the chance to fly? Or be invisible? But is it all it is cracked up to be? Add in some wacky characters including the mysterious butterfly catcher and you have an offbeat fantasy that explores the concept of acceptance, the need for human interaction, and whether the grass is in fact greener on the other side.
Remember the old saying "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence"? Well this story shows that it is not always the case. Miserable in the orphanage, for Red the opportunity to escape was too good to pass up, what he didn't realise was that he was exchanging one prison for another.
Adele Broadbent
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wouldn't you like to fly? But what if you could never be the same again?

This is a fabulously plotted story, that pieced together effortlessly (not just all tied up quickly at the end) – well deserved NZ Post Children’s book of the year 2010.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into this book, however, it covered some very interesting topics. By the end of the book, I felt very encouraged. My outlook on life had been altered ever-so slightly. Was the grass on the other side of the fence really greener?
Jun 01, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My 14 year old son had nothing to read the other day and came asking what I had beside the bed. I gave him The Loblolly Boy and now he can'r put it down. He said it hooked him from the very first couple of pages. I can't wait to read it.
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James Norcliffe is both an award-winning poet and the author of five Young Adult novels. He teaches at New Zealand's Lincoln University and lives in Church Bay with his wife and an ungrateful cat named Pinky Bones. His novel, The Assassin of Gleam, received an award for the best fantasy published in New Zealand in 2006.

Other books in the series

The Loblolly Boy (3 books)
  • The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer
  • The Pirates and the Nightmaker