Fly, Cher Ami, Fly!: The Pigeon Who Saved the Lost Battalion

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Based on a heroic true story

 

The soldier held the little creature gently with both hands.

In the dim light, he carefully attached the message to the bird’s leg.

He called out the bird’s name: “Cher Ami. Dear Friend, go safely. Save us!”

Fly, Cher Ami, fly!

 

Cher Ami was one of six hundred carrier pigeons used by the American ...

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Overview

Based on a heroic true story

 

The soldier held the little creature gently with both hands.

In the dim light, he carefully attached the message to the bird’s leg.

He called out the bird’s name: “Cher Ami. Dear Friend, go safely. Save us!”

Fly, Cher Ami, fly!

 

Cher Ami was one of six hundred carrier pigeons used by the American Army during World War I. Riveting text by award-winning author Robert Burleigh and lush illustrations by Robert MacKenzie capture the intrepid story of his most famous flight. A tale of triumph and bravery, Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! tells the true story of a heroic pigeon who, against all odds, helped rescue a lost battalion of soldiers and left an unforgettable mark on American history.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The time is 1918. The place is France. The First World War is underway. Some American troops have been cut off, and they are surrounded. The other troops don't know where they are. Their last hope is a carrier pigeon called Cher Ami. He is sent out with a message and map tied to his leg. Past a German sharpshooter and bullets he flies. Another German soldier sends a hawk to catch him, but the predatory bird loses Cher Ami in the sun. "Fly, Cher Ami, fly!" is the repeated refrain, printed in large, bold type. Through explosions and fierce winds, the tiny bird pushes on. He finally reaches headquarters and delivers his message. He can sleep at last, having saved the soldiers. MacKenzie's naturalistic paintings fill the double-page spreads with scenes of the landscape—from the burning battlefields to the peaceful pastures—along with bits of human action. At first, we see the trapped troops and flight preparations; then, the flight itself and Cher Ami's close escapes. A burnt orange tone dominates all scenes, helping us recall the venue. The specifics of combat remind us of the perseverance of this remarkable bird. A note adds details about him, along with information about carrier pigeons. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4

Burleigh sticks to the happier aspects of this last flight of the intrepid carrier pigeon whose timely message enabled the rescue of a stranded American battalion during the waning days of World War I. In the afterword, readers learn that Cher Ami was badly wounded during this flight-blinded in one eye and crippled when one of his legs was shot off. Since the action of Burleigh's narrative begins when the battalion is already surrounded behind enemy lines, it will be difficult for young readers to understand it within the context of the war itself. MacKenzie's sun-drenched palette is an odd choice for depicting battlefields. Then, too, readers may wish they had a fuller description of how Cher Ami came by his wooden prosthesis (on display with his body at the National Museum of American History) and of his recognition by the French government, which presented him with a medal for bravery. Somehow, this book misses the mark-sadly incongruous in a book about a homing pigeon.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY

Kirkus Reviews
During World War I, the U.S. Army relied on a flock of 600 carrier pigeons to send messages back to headquarters from troops in the field, and one, Cher Ami, became famous for saving the "Lost Battalion," which had been trapped behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, this book doesn't do the stirring story justice. The text relies on far too many exclamation points ("Dear Friend, go safely. Save us!"), which makes the action seem forced and melodramatic. While MacKenzie's illustrations use color and line effectively to evoke the chaos of the battle scenes, the soldiers often look stiff. Worst yet, some of the most stirring historic details-that Cher Ami was badly injured on his Lost Battalion flight, but cared for by Army doctors and even given a prosthetic leg-are banished to the afterword. It is regrettable that these fascinating facts were not included in a work presented as a true story. Instead readers see an uninjured pigeon in a Disney-esque ending: "He had saved the soldiers! Sleep, Cher Ami, sleep!" (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810970977
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 450L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Burleigh is the author of Seurat and La Grande Jatte, for which he won a prestigious Orbis Pictus Award; Paul Cézanne: A Painter’s Journey; Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge and the City of Light; and Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest, which was a Texas Bluebonnet Master List selection. A painter as well as a writer, he lives with his wife in Chicago. Robert MacKenzie has worked as a concept and visual development artist on such films as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Shrek 2, and Ice Age: The Meltdown. He lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2008

    Tastefully Written & Beautifully Illustrated

    The topic of war is a difficult one to explain to young children. It was refreshing to see how tastefully Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! dealt with this sensitive subject. I completely disagree with the Kirkus reviewer. This book is not geared towards middle school children. It was written for 4-8 year olds. I was frankly happy and relieved that the artist showed enough good judgement and restaint, so that my five year old didn't have to see a painting of a bird with its bloody eye hanging out, leg shot off and hole through his chest the size of a quarter. While that may be accurate, children these days are bombarded with way too many violent images. Finally, here is book that deals with the human side of war. The soldiers are young and scared. The images are symbolic. The military uniforms are historically accurate. It seems to me that both author and artist honored the story of Cher Ami on a level that is appropriate for their target audience of 4-8 year olds.

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