Libby lands in trouble at school for painting a blazing sunrise on a boring, empty wall. During her punishment, she comes across a trinket that belonged to her former art teacher, a rock with the message “Create the world of your dreams” etched into it. “Here is someone who got me,” Libby thinks, and pockets the stone. Ann Braden’s second middle grade novel, Flight of the Puffin, depicts how impactful it can be for a young person to feel ‘gotten’ by someone.
Chapters alternate between four children: creative Libby; football player Jack; math and puffin enthusiast Vincent; and T, who lives on the street with their dog, Peko. Braden builds moving portraits of these characters as they struggle with the unachievable expectations placed on them by their parents. For instance, Libby’s passion for spreading joyful, colorful art with a positive message isn’t appreciated by her mom, who takes away her art supplies, while Jake collects signatures for a petition. All four characters are united by their openness to new ideas to help heal their world.
The children empathetically portrayed in Flight of the Puffin demonstrate courage and strength as they remain faithful to who they are. In this emotional book, Braden movingly underscores the simple truth that everyone needs love, companionship and acceptance.