I feel so very honoured that Jazzy, of Jazzy’s Bookshelf, shares some of her reviews here on Children’s Books Daily. Reviews by young people, for young people, are the very best kind and Jazzy is one of the best around. You can read all her reviews for me here. Jazzy also has very different reading taste to me, so we balance each other nicely here on the blog. She loves fantasy, I love realistic fiction…and yet here she is with a book from MY genre – I’m really pleased she enjoyed this one!
My strides are too big, uneven, something. My rhythm is off. Normally I’d stop and start over. Not now. I can’t. I have to show them. I have to show all of them: Kirsty, Louisa, Maddie – and especially Telia. I have to.
We all have our troubles. Our misgivings. And a chance to believe in ourselves… The Flyaway Girls is a doorway into the mind of a young Australian gymnast.
Chelsea is an 11-year-old girl facing obstacles. She works harder at gymnastics than any of the other kids in the Club. Her dream is to get into Nationals, but when a girl called Telia comes along things get interesting. Telia has more natural talent than the main character, even though Chelsea practices for many hours including at school. But gymnastics isn’t the only thing she has to worry about. Chelsea has a very difficult family life. Her parents are divorced and her dad now has a girlfriend who infuriates Chelsea. Even worse; she has to go on a holiday with them! And now her friends are acting strangely…
This story is new territory for me. I usually choose fantasy/adventures, but I actually found myself enjoying this book. It’s a simple tale about gymnastics, friendships and family.
The author Julia Lawrinson has created a very realistic character in Chelsea, The Flyaway Girls’ heroine. She has her flaws and struggles, like when Chelsea’s friends Gemma and Rosie get angry at her. At first Chelsea can’t figure out why and then she realises they don’t like her doing gym all the time. Chelsea doesn’t talk to them while rehearsing her floor routine and while she’s doing everything else she completely ignores them. I don’t do gymnastics but I still find that I can relate to Chelsea. She rarely gets nervous, is ambitious and always tries her hardest.
Chelsea’s parents are OK, but her dad doesn’t connect with her well. He doesn’t know anything about Chelsea. She fights with Gemma and Rosie. Jealousy rules with Telia. Yet with all these things going on, Chelsea still manages to deal with her crises. There is a girl called Ellie, but Ellie isn’t very nice. She bullies Telia and is a pessimist. In one part of the book Ellie cries… And Ellie never cries. This shows that every person has two sides to their personality, even though you may regularly only see one. Judgement is a very important message in The Flyaway Girls. Telia is really good at gymnastics and Chelsea gets SUPER envious, but she isn’t actually that bad.
The Flyaway Girls would probably appeal to female readers more than boys because there are hardly any males. The dad, school teacher Mr Fraser and Chelsea’s brother Kieran are the only main ones. Luckily, there are no language problems. I recommend this book to kids aged 10+
Julia Lawrinson has done a superb job putting together this heart-warming and relatable ‘tween story and I will keep an eye out for some of her other books. I give The Flyaway Girls five bookbolts out of five.
Publisher: Penguin Group (Australia)