FERRARI, Michael. Born to Fly. 224p. Delacorte. 2009. Tr $15.99.
Gr 4-7–Bird McGill regards her dad as her best friend. He takes her up in the planes he repairs and lets her take the controls, and he encourages her dream of becoming a pilot. But a special bulletin disrupts her 11th-birthday afternoon: Japan has attacked the military base in , and Bird’s world is turned upside down. During the next few months, the local airstrip is turned into a military flight school, and her dad is shipped overseas. When a Japanese-American boy joins Bird’s class that spring, he is met with distrust. Although his uncle, with whom he is staying, is a longtime resident of Bird’s Rhode Island town, they are both thought to be spies, or at least loyal to Japan . Circumstances compel Kenji and Bird to join forces one day to escape Farley, a class bully, and in the process they stumble on evidence of an enemy submarine in the area. When they attempt to report what they have seen, nobody believes them. Their problems are compounded when Farley’s shiftless father is murdered and the local engine factory is sabotaged: Kenji’s uncle is blamed. Only Bird can clear Uncle Tomo, but the murderer has threatened to kill her family if she speaks up. Well-developed characters make this story of friendship amid hostilities shine. While the coincidences surrounding the murderer can stretch credulity at times, this action-packed first novel is full of engaging twists and turns, and readers learn about the injustices done to many Japanese Americans during World War II. First-rate historical fiction.–Kim Dare, , VA