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Monday, March 11, 2019

7th MMGM: The Simple Art Of Flying by Cory Leonardo (review, interview, giveaway)


Welcome to Day 6 of the 7th Annual March MG Madness! Click here to see the full schedule and links to other days.


The Simple Art of Flying 
By Cory Leonardo 
February 12, 2019 
Aladdin 

Quirky characters, plucky humor, and a heartwarming message come together in this big-hearted debut novel about friendship and the true meaning of family. 

Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground… 

Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land. 

In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go. 



African grey parrots, Alastair and Aggie, are born in a less than well-kept pet store, owned by a less than ideal owner. Alastair has big plans to break him and his sister out and find a real home...but all that comes crashing down when Aggie is purchased by sweet, young Fritz and Alastair is purchased by quirky old Mrs. Plopky. Alastair’s separation anxiety has him plucking out his feathers and devouring books, savoring their sweet words. Will the two birds ever be reunited? 

Corey Leonardo’s The Simple Art of Flying is a quirky, charming middle-grade book with a lot of heart! Told from three distinct, captivating points of view (Alastair, Fritz, and Mrs. Plopky), The Simple Art of Flying is a tender story that unfolds through lovely storytelling. Through these three likable points of view, Leonardo deftly explores relatable topics like loss, belonging, complex family dynamics, love, and more.  

The animal world within the pet shop is a humorous and fun one that will delight and amuse young readers. Leonardo does a wonderful job of giving these animal characters engaging, larger than life personalities. And I must mention the innovative and impressive poems included throughout the story because they are fantastic! 

Heartfelt and sweet, The Simple Art of Flying will move, inspire, and entertain readers with its lovely storytelling and unforgettable characters. 



  
Q1. What three words best describe your book The Simple Art of Flying? 

Parrots. Poetry. Pet-shenanigans. 

Q2.  Grab a copy of The Simple Art of Flying and answer the following 
Favorite chapter? 
That’s such a hard question! I’m not sure I have a favorite, but I will say that Chapter 11 was the first chapter where I thought, yes—this is a book. I loved writing those scenes on the pet shop sales floor. 

Favorite page? 
One page?!! And I thought the favorite chapter was a hard question! One page feels impossible, but pages 341-345 will always have my heart. But I can’t tell you why until your read the book—too many spoilers! 

Favorite setting? 
The pet shop. Hands down. Spending time with all those crazy animals was an absolute joy. Lazy rabbits, food-crazed guinea pigs, meathead hamsters, and blood-thirsty gerbils, oh my. 

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: 
I flipped to page 238. 
“’So what if you dressed like a kidney for Halloween?” Mrs. Plopky told me. “I don’t think wearing a bedsheet is anything to write home about!’” 
This is from one of Fritz’s “medical logs.” He’s a boy who has big dreams of being a doctor. (And this was an epic Halloween costume. A kidney that squirts yellow mustard? Yes, please.) 

Q3. What inspired The Simple Art of Flying? How did the story come to be? 

THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING came in a bolt of lightning. One morning, Alastair’s voice was in my head. I knew he was a parrot, and I knew instantly that he had a certain taste for poetry. His sister Aggie, Fritz and 80-year-old Bertie—they came tumbling in too, and all before my feet hit the floor. But it’s funny how much your own life finds its way into your stories: I sometimes have a cantankerous voice in my own head; like Alastair, I ate up that same book of poetry (though not literally) in college; much of Bertie’s story came from having a couple spritely, opinionated grandmothers; and all of the antics in the pet shop were born out of listening to my veterinarian mother regale us with the day’s animal antics every night at the dinner table. 

Q4. Tell us a bit about your character Alastair. What makes him special? What do you love about him? 

Alastair’s a curmudgeon—he’s also a catastrophe. A surly African grey parrot with two broken wings and a feather-picking problem, Alastair’s one redeeming quality is his love for his sister Aggie. But underneath that hard exterior, he’s got a big heart, and it often shows up in something else that makes him special: his poetry. After ripping up a book of poems one day, Alastair realizes he can “taste” words. And it results in him re-working some of the classic poems he’s eaten and creating his own. But as lovely as a protective poet of a parrot is, will always love him for his grumpiness, his conspiracies, his roll-your-eyes ridiculousness. 

Q5. What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade lit? 

Deep and abiding truths being expressed though joy and using a large dollop of hope. Middle grade books celebrate the best of who we are as human beings and charge us to reach for the stars. Where else can you laugh until your belly hurts, look through someone else’s eyes and see the world as they see it, leave feeling like good things are possible—for us. They’re the happiest, most hopeful books, and I’ll never stop enjoying every part of them. 

Q6. What is your all-time favorite middle-grade book? 

I’d probably have to say Charlotte’s Web, particularly the audiobook read by E.B. White. It is absolute perfection. I listen to it every year. 

Q7. Fill in the blanks: 
I’m really awesome at _baking, and I have a collection of “perfect” recipes. You really don’t know what a perfect chocolate-chip-cookie is until you’ve tried many__. 

I’m really embarrassed to admit _I don’t eat my vegetables as often as I should. (Rather than vegetables, I just had a piece of cheesecake, and I’m currently polishing off a bag of chips. Don’t tell my kids!)__. 

The last great book I read was _The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan__. 


Q8. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Simple Art of Flying what would it look and taste like? What would you call it? 

It would absolutely be a chocolate cherry crumble cupcake, made by the elderly (but spicy) Bertie Plopky. Chocolate cake, cherry surprise, and a crunchy top. She’d probably call it the Beat that, Delores cupcake. As I said—Bertie’s spicy. 


Cory Leonardo grew up believing she’d replace Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune, but when that didn’t pan out, she decided she’d turn letters and phrases in a different way (but minus the glittery dresses, sadly). A born and bred upstate New Yorker, she currently lives in the Syracuse area with her husband and three plucky children. 


Win 1 of 2 copies of
The Simple Art of Flying!
The folks at Aladdin have generously offered two finished copies for two winners.
-US only
-ends 4/5/19
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen, prizes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

8 comments:

Danielle H. said...

This book is beautiful. Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed how this book idea just popped into your head one morning. I love animal characters and wanted to be a veterinarian myself. This character sounds fun to get to know.

Brenda said...

The Simple Art of Flying sounds adorable, love spunky animal characters.

John Smith said...

"Charlotte's Web" is definitely great--I'll have to find out more about that audiobook!

Carl Scott said...

this book looks like a delight. Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy!

kay Slowey-Sly said...

I love animals and especially animals with attitude! This book sounds like a wonderful read. I am adding this to my reading list.

Jennifer M said...

I enjoyed reading this story. I now look forward to sharing it with my students. It would make a wonderful addition to our classroom library.

Dan Denman said...

The book cover is colorful and fun. This sounds like a warm story with good characters.

Shari Sawyers said...

I loved this book! I got to read an ARC and it was just fabulous! I loved the poetry written by Alastair, and the fantastic, quirky characters. Thanks for offering a giveaway!