Monday, January 18, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: BLACKBIRD FLY by Erin Entrada Kelly

BLACKBIRD FLY by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books, 2015)

What It's About (from Goodreads blurb): 
Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple’s conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.

Opening Lines:
"On the day we moved to America, it snowed in Chapel Spring. Louisiana, for the first time in twenty years. My mother said it was a sign that the seasons of our lives were changing. Even though I was only four years old, I can still remember how she hugged me close and said we had something wonderful to look forward to: a life as real Americans.

What I Liked About It:

  • An attractive cover, perfect for middle grade
  • A thoughtful portrayal of the immigrant experience. Apple experiences all the middle school embarrassment about one's parent, with the added worry about her mother not being American enough.
  • An insight into Filipino culture--I really like novels which show cultural diversity
  • The importance of music in Apple's salvation
  • Lump-in-the-throat moments. The meanness and cruelty, the superficiality were hard to take, but spot-on. Most people remember middle school as the hardest time of their lives, and Apple is no exception. However, she moves from one group of friends (the cruel and callous and jerky one) to another (more of the misfits), and the novel ends on a note of sweet reconciliation.

About the Author (from back jacket):
Erin Entrada Kelly grew up in south Louisiana and now lives in Philadelphia. Erin's mother was the first in her family to immigrate from the Philippines. Blackbird Fly is Erin Entrada Kelly's first book.

**BLACKBIRD FLY is a CYBILS finalist! Look for the winner to be announced on February the 14th.


  1. Great review -- I really want to read this one!

  2. Glad you liked this. It has always sounded so good to me.

  3. It's a tough decision between this one and the other four Cybils finalists. I liked this one too for all the reasons you so eloquently stated. Thanks for the review.

  4. This one is now a must read and get. We have many an immigrant in our school and some exchange students. The majority of them are Filipino. And before I gosh, that cover is fantastic!

  5. This sounds like a wonderful book. I wish books like this had been available when I was teaching. My classes were all multicultural, with lots of children of immigrants. Books like this are such a powerful resource for young readers to develop inner strengths and positive insights and coping skills.

  6. I'm happy that you liked it! It is one of my favorite reads by far and the story itself is very memorable. Thanks for the review! :-)

  7. Oh, I hope this wins a Cybil award! One of my favorite MG reads in 2015. Even if it doesn't win, it's still a gem. Love love love this story. And Erin's next book comes out in March. Can't wait!

  8. Thanks for the great interview. My kind of book. I love to read immigrant stories. And, this one is on my list.

  9. I will have to read this one. When I taught in San Jose in a special program, half my students were Filipino. What a lovely group of people. I sure miss a never-ending supply of homemade lumpia! Thanks for this post. I will check this book out.

  10. Wow, what a cover! Sounds like a well-told story.

  11. Adding it! I love immigrant stories. Thank you.


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