Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Middle-grade review: The Flight of the Doves

Kid Lit Blog Hop day! 
Kid Lit Blog Hop

After the fun I had last week with two old favorites, I decided to go ahead with one more of my old "orphan books."  So here is my review:
The Flight of the Doves The Flight of the Doves, by Walter Macken.
Published by Scholastic Books, 1968.  224 pages.
I bought this book from the Scholastic book advertising flyer thingie (you remember those, right?  Kids still get them, too) with my own pocket money when I was in grade school, shortly after it was published.  Did I just admit that?

Brief Summary: Finn and Derval Dove are living in England with "Uncle Toby," who married their mother after their father died.  Their mother is now dead as well, and Toby isn't nice to them at all.  In fact, he's abusive.  One night things come to a head, and the two children run away that very night.  Their destination: their Granny O'Flaherty somewhere in the west of Ireland.  Finn is 12, Derval 7, and neither knows exactly where they are going--until news coverage of their case gives it away.  They cross Ireland on foot and with help from various people, and come in the end to find the family they need.

Review: I think this might be the perfect balance of adventure for the middle grade child.  There is excitement, narrow escapes, and lots of creativity and initiative required from Finn (Derval is not a very developed character; she is the small child who provides both a reason for Finn to do what he does and the greatest source of anxiety during the process).  But the danger is never life-threatening, unless you count being sent back to an abusive and loveless existence.  And what they do feels totally believable.  There are no exceptional skills on their part, no super powers or even knowledge beyond what any kid Finn's age would have known in the 1960s.  He does it all with stubbornness and determination, and just enough adult help to be believable.

The writing style feels a little odd.  I'm not sure if it's dated or just that the author is making a conscious effort to keep it within the parameters for children of a certain age, but sentences feel short and declarative.  Nonetheless, it reads well and the writing feels more like a stylistic choice than a grade-level requirement.  The plot, as noted, is believable, and the story develops quickly and moves fast enough that I have trouble putting the book down, even though I've probably read it a dozen times or more.

Four and a half stars.

Full Disclosure: I bought this copy of The Flight of the Doves when I was in grade school, and received nothing whatsoever from the author or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own and no one else's.

Notice: This blog is posting itself in my absence.  If you comment, I WILL respond. . . but not for a few weeks.  This does not mean I no longer love you.  It just means I've gone hiking.


  1. I have never heard of this. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Looks like a good read. It reminds me some-what of Boxcar Children. Its simple in its style and also has similar story line of running away from their main home. Not sure if they are in the same time period though. Thanks for sharing the review on Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  3. Sarah, I don't know how widely known he is. In the US, in looks like the only publication was through Scholastic.

    Resh--it's written at a higher reading level than the Boxcar children, but there is a certain similarity of tone, I think. Very matter-of-fact about what they are doing.

  4. One of my old favorites I'm returning to. Unfortunately doesn't have an ebook copy, foo. (I recently re-read Sod House Adventure and my favorite Willard Price book, "Elephant Adventure" through their OMG!!11!AWESOME online lending service.)

  5. MyAutism, thanks for coming by. I never saw "Sod House Adventure" before, but I now MUST read it. Not only do I like that sort of thing in general, but my Grandmother was born in a sod house in Nebraska!

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