Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall Reading 2014 Beyond the Laughing Sky


I've noticed a trend lately in children's literature, or maybe just in the kid-lit that I've been reading. Birds and nests seem to be very en vogue right now. There's Nest by Esther Ehrlich, Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen and Scott Bakal, Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin, Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald, and now Beyond the Laughing Sky. But they're each very different stories, with unique characters and plots, although the tone of Beyond the Laughing Sky reminds me of Nightingale's Nest.

Nashville is a boy who hatched from an egg. He has feathers instead of hair and a beak instead of a human mouth. But he has been raised by human parents and has a human little sister named Junebug. The story tells us about Nashville's unusual origins, then takes us into the events as he begins middle school. Entering middle school can be rough for any child, especially when the kids are coming together from several different elementary schools and trying to get used to a new building and new classmates after five or six years of being in the same familiar place. In Nashville's case, the other kids have gotten used to him over their years together, but now he will be facing new kids and teachers who will all react to his differences.

Middle school is also a time when kids are moving from being tweens to being teenagers, looking at their lives and questioning their identity and their future. Nashville wonders why he can't fly. He has feathers and a beak, why not wings? Junebug helps him collect spare feathers for a project at school, while his parents continue to support him as he deals with bullies and overly curious classmates. As they reach the end of the year, it seems that Nashville may find some of the answers he is looking for.

I loved the house perched in the tree, the family sitting on swings around the kitchen table, Nashville scrubbing his feathers in an oversize bird bath... It was such a quirky, loving home that his parents had created, but even in the most perfect home - kids eventually have to leave the nest. (Pun intended.) When Nashville finds what he's looking for, will he leave, too? 

If you've read Nightingale's Nest and enjoyed it, I would recommend Beyond the Laughing Sky. It's also a great read for those who don't mind a little fantasy mixed into stories that also deal with real issues like belonging, family, and being true to yourself.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  It was published October 2, 2014.

For more information, visit the author's website. Here is a photo of her doing some falconry.

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