Flying Lessons and Other Stories

Flying Lessons and Other Stories

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 Ting...

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Title:Flying Lessons and Other Stories
Author:Ellen Oh
Rating:
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:240 pages

Flying Lessons and Other Stories Reviews

  • Donalyn
    Feb 05, 2017

    Fabulous anthology with a mix of genres and perspectives represented. A must-have for middle school and high school classrooms and libraries.

  • Lesley Burnap
    Jul 21, 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?

  • Jacquelyn
    Jan 26, 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    4/5 stars

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

    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.

    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.

  • Emily Mead
    Jan 11, 2017

    This anthology makes me so happy. YES for diverse middle grade books about all different kinds of things - about being a trans kid, disabled, PoC, native...and the diversity is intersectional too.

    The only drawback to it is that 1) the stories are INCREDIBLY short, and often it's like the story's only begun when it's finished. And 2) they're still overwhelmingly American. What I would love to see is a diverse stories anthology with contributions from all over the world, because everyone's story

    This anthology makes me so happy. YES for diverse middle grade books about all different kinds of things - about being a trans kid, disabled, PoC, native...and the diversity is intersectional too.

    The only drawback to it is that 1) the stories are INCREDIBLY short, and often it's like the story's only begun when it's finished. And 2) they're still overwhelmingly American. What I would love to see is a diverse stories anthology with contributions from all over the world, because everyone's story deserves to be told.

    As much as I am a big fan of the #WNDB books movement, and the incredible things it has done, many of the dominant diverse voices still seem to be American. I don't know - just some thoughts.

  • Natalie
    Jan 06, 2017

    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.

    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:

    Twelve-year-old Merci Suarez is helping her father

    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.

    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:

    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.

    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.

    I love Woodson's writing a lot, so I was truly pumped when I saw her as one of the contributors to this collection.

    is told from the point of view of a main white character, Treetop, befriending Celeste, who has brown skin in a predominately white town.

    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:

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

    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.

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

    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:

    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.

    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

    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.

    is the best thing that's happened to me this week. And I have nothing but love for it.

    ,

  • Sue (Hollywood News Source)
    Dec 21, 2016

    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

    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:

    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.' 

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

    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. 

    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. 

     

    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. 

     

    A touching story about a Isaiah, a kid who are coping with the death of his father. It also tackles poverty and hope. 

    Similar to Peña's story, I couldn't relate to this one. But, the young readers, who is the intended readers, would certainly do.

    This is a lyrical, heartfelt story about grief. I love it so much. A must read. 

    A fun, summery beach read. A good story when you're soaking in the sun. 

    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. 

    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. 

  • CW (Read Think Ponder)
    Jan 08, 2017

    I loved

    This book was the perfect book to start off 2017 -

    -- 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

    so important and successful.

    I loved

    This book was the perfect book to start off 2017 -

    -- 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

    so important and successful.

    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,

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

    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.

    However,

    ends with a very tender and profound scene between the protagonist and his father. An excellent, deeply honest, and empowering story.

    I am particularly fond of this one because the characters are Chinese, and how so many things in this short story felt familiar.

    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 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

    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!

    This short story seems generally well-liked -- and with good reason.

    is a powerful story about a girl and her family's painting business, and one incident during her summer.

    had moments of humour - I particularly loved how Merci, the protagonist, described her brother - but it

    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

    . A heartbreaking

    heartwarming story with so many important lessons.

    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.

    On this front, Federle delivered.

    I'll tell you this:

    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,

    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.

    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.

    Unfortunately, I had difficulty connecting to

    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.

    Though most of this story is the uncle's story,

    highlights the importance of family traditions and how such traditions bring people - not just family! - together. Though it wasn't for me,

    is still a delightful story.

    I didn't expect to love

    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'.

    both girls experience in a town where 'the leaves are the only colour'. Unexpectedly profound that boasts a stunning narrative,

    is a story about grief, loneliness, the terrible effect of stereotypes, but also makes room for optimism and longing for a better future.

    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.

    I adored Nani, her hilarious escapades and fierce way of life, but also for her insight and astounding perceptiveness.

    delves deeply into a question I always ask myself - what makes you happy?

    ,

    was unforgettable and a story I will hold onto for the years to come.

    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

    , I fantasized about having superpowers of my own, so I found

    to be lovely and satisfying.

    Told like a memoir,

    . 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,

    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.

    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.

    The story and narrative is simple, but that's what made the story all the more profound and meaningful.

    All in all,

    is an outstanding anthology and, more importantly,

    -

    This review can also be found on my book blog,

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    Jan 06, 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

    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.

  • Ron Charles
    Jan 10, 2017

    Had the pleasure of interviewing the editor, Ellen Oh, about this great new collection of stories for kids. To watch, go to The Washington Post Facebook page:

  • Sara
    Feb 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

    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.