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Only a Witch Can Fly

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Overview

Only a witch can fly.

But one little girl wants to fly—more than anything. So on a special night, with the moon shining bright and her cat by her side, she gathers herself up, she grips her broom tight, and she tries. And she fails. And she’s brave. And she tries again. Until . . .

Utterly enchanting, New York Times–bestselling author Alison McGhee’s lyrical language and Taeeun Yoo’s transcendent linoleum ...

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Overview

Only a witch can fly.

But one little girl wants to fly—more than anything. So on a special night, with the moon shining bright and her cat by her side, she gathers herself up, she grips her broom tight, and she tries. And she fails. And she’s brave. And she tries again. Until . . .

Utterly enchanting, New York Times–bestselling author Alison McGhee’s lyrical language and Taeeun Yoo’s transcendent linoleum block prints create a bewitching tale about finding one’s own path that will send your heart soaring.

Only a Witch Can Fly is a 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Only a Witch Can Fly:

“The effortless quiet of McGhee’s words is beautifully matched by Yoo’s pictures. …There’s more than enough magic in these pages…for young readers and for their parents, who might otherwise give up on finding anything truly enchanting about Halloween.”—The New York Times Book Review

“It’s an enchanting book that makes a compelling point about the perseverance needed to follow your dreams. It’s not hard to imagine such a potent message resonating with young readers this Halloween”—BookPage“This sophisticated picture book is rich with imagination… More personal, quiet, and transcendent than most Halloween books, this is not a call to witchcraft, but rather to following one’s heart.”—Booklist

 

“Like its protagonist, this book soars.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

 

“This gentle, lyrical tale, written in the unusual poetic stanzas of a medieval sestina, recounts a young trick-or-treater’s dogged attempts to make her dreams of flight come true. …This is a quieter, more reflective addition to Halloween collections that offers an enchanting storytime read-aloud.”School Library Journal

 

“Beneath the vintage spooky setting lies a subtle message about perseverance and individuality.”—Publishers Weekly

 

Lawrence Downes
The effortless quiet of McGhee's words is beautifully matched by Yoo's pictures—linoleum block prints done in rapturously moody greens and browns. As the girl tries and fails and tries again, she summons the help of a black cat, an owl and her little brother. It's clear she'll need some magic, too. I won't spoil the ending, but it's fair to say that there's more than enough magic in these pages for her, for young readers and for their parents
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Chocolate and mint block prints that evoke 1960s-era picture books and lyrical prose tell the story of a girl who dreams of flying her broom across the sky. Dressed in classic witch attire—striped socks, a black cape and a bandana—and accompanied by her loyal black cat, she tries again and again without success. “How awful it is not to fly in the sky,” laments the text as she tumbles to the ground. But determination pays off, and the girl finally takes off into a grainy green night (“Above you the night birds circle and croon./ Did you ever know you could fly so high?”). Beneath the vintage spooky setting lies a subtle message about perseverance and individuality. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—This gentle, lyrical tale, written in the unusual poetic stanzas of a medieval sestina, recounts a young trick-or-treater's dogged attempts to make her dreams of flight come true. Linoleum block illustrations, in muted shades of green, orange, and brown and thick swathes of black and black line, juxtapose the cozy, rural details of a loving family's hearth and home with the shadowy, spooky outdoor world of jack-o'-lanterns, black cats, and bats under a full moon. The illustrative details ground and extend the story line of this part realistic, part magical tale, making the sophisticated text more accessible to younger listeners. "Hold tight to your broom/and float past the stars,/and turn to the heavens and soar." This is a quieter, more reflective addition to Halloween collections that offers an enchanting storytime read-aloud.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
Kirkus Reviews
"If you were a young witch, who had not yet flown, / and the dark night sky held a round yellow moon . . . " Well, you'd want to fly, wouldn't you? McGhee's gently rhyming direct address coaxes out of readers a yearning they may never have known existed: to "[h]old tight to your broom / and float past the stars, / and turn to the heavens and soar." Yoo's gorgeous, muscular woodcuts, colored in subdued greens, browns and oranges with thick, night-black lines, tell the story of one young witch who, unable to sleep, takes herself outside with the support of her Cat and a brown velvet Bat-and with her little brother as silent witness-and, after a flop in the pumpkins, rises on her broom at last. Like its protagonist, this book soars. (Picture book. 3-7)
Children's Literature - Anita Barnes Lowen
On Halloween night a young girl longs to fly. Lured by the moonlight and the star-filled sky, encouraged by dark Cat purring "soar," and urged by a heart that tells her to do it now, she slips from her house and soars from the front porch... into a pile of pumpkins. "Poor you, poor, poor," hums black Cat, but the moon and the stars so high still call. She picks up her broom and "one, two, three, four" into the sky she soars. Higher and higher, earthbound no more, she holds tight to her broom and floats past the stars and turns to the heavens to soar past the moon. "For only a witch can fly past the moon. Only a witch can fly." Written as a sestina, a poetry form that originated in the twelfth century, the words and pictures evoke the magic of Halloween and a little girl's longing to fly. At times it seems as if the author's need to fit words to the sestina form makes some stanzas awkward and confusing. Younger readers or listeners may find the story somewhat difficult to follow, although the illustrations wonderfully move the tale along. These superb linoleum block prints with hints of another time fill each double-page spread. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250004062
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 8/12/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 301,183
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Alison McGhee is the award-winning author of numerous books for children and adults, including the New York Times–bestselling picture books Somebody, illustrated by Peter Reynolds, and A Very Brave Witch, illustrated by Harry Bliss, and the novel, Shadow Baby, a Pulitzer Prize–nominee and a Today Show pick. McGhee is a professor of creative writing at Metropolitan State University and a founding member of Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minnesota with her family.

Taeeun Yoo received the Founders Award—for the most promising new talent of the year—from the Society of Illustrators for her debut picture book The Little Red Fish, about which Publishers Weekly in a starred review raved, “exhilarating visual images . . . shutting the book feels like awakening from a dream.” She also illustrated stunning new covers for Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time quintet. Born and raised in Korea, Yoo came to New York City to study illustration at The School of Visual Arts, where she earned her MFA. She lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

If you were a young witch, who had not yet flown,

And the dark night sky held a round yellow moon

and the moon shone her light on the silent broom

and the dark cat beside you crooned, Soar,

would you too begin to cry,

because of your longing to fly?

Only a witch can fly.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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