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Reviewed by:
  • The Art of Flying by Judy Hoffman
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer
Hoffman, Judy. The Art of Flying; illus. by Stephanie Graegin. Disney/Hyperion, 2013. [320p] ISBN 1-4231-5815-8 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-6

Accidentally transforming three birds into humans has landed the Baldwin sisters in some serious hot water with the Council of Unnatural Events, and the two witchy sisters decide that their eleven-year-old neighbor Fortuna Dalliance can help them out of it. Fortuna is charged with the task of looking after Martin, one of the bird tranformees, and convincing him that he should want to return to his bird form (apparently a requirement for the reverse spell to work). Fortuna, however, thinks Martin should be human and remain her friend, especially when Martin and his bird brother, also transformed, teach Fortuna how to fly. The whimsy of the premise holds great appeal for fans of cozy fantasies, and the witches here give the magical nemesis of Clover Twig (in Umansky’s Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage, BCCB 10/09, etc.) a run for her money in the categories of comical incompetence and snarky wit. Unfortunately, the storytelling doesn’t match Umansky’s, and behavior is too often driven by plot necessity rather than genuine character—it’s never quite explained, for example, why the Baldwin sisters chose Fortuna, nor does Fortuna’s sudden attachment to Martin feel anything more than convenient to the story, especially when she initially finds him strange and annoying. A subplot following an old crow’s efforts to get the bird boys back into their proper form will please animal-loving kids, however, and the humorous bumbling of the witches will likely inspire more than a few amused cackles. [End Page 216]



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