Flying Free is an illustrated short story about a boy, an air rifle and a hawk.
Colin’s excitement at being given a present by his older brother is soon overshadowed as he sees the consequences of his actions with the air rifle. I was surprised by how quickly I was drawn into the story and empathetic towards Colin, our protagonist. Nicola Davies also manages to contrast the harsh conditions of working life in the country carefully with the gentleness of the natural world. Consequently the reader begins to appreciate Colin’s environment alongside him. There is nothing predictable or stereotypical about the characters in the story and I found the way they reacted to events reassuringly human, especially the vet. I had occasional flashes of Kes by Barry Hines in my mind but the gentleness of this story meant it is suitable for a younger readership.
This series of six short stories is about growing up in the countryside. The story will appeal to less confident readers for both its length and the accompanying illustrations. I think Flying Free and the rest of the series would work well as a Guided Reading text for readers in KS2 who either haven’t developed the stamina for longer texts or are do not choose reading as an activity of choice. It could link nicely with non-fiction texts about birds and the countryside, such as A World of Birds. If a child enjoyed this story, I would encourage them to read Gill Lewis’s story Sky Dancer.
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