The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher
Genre: Adventure Mystery
Recommended Age Group: 10 and Up
Summary: This Newbery Honor Book begins just after World War II is over and Johnny Littlehorn and his mother are waiting for his father to come home from Europe. While they were waiting for Mr. Littlehorn to come home Johnny fell and broke his leg and liked the treatment his mother was giving him so much that he stopped trying to walk altogether. When he Dad returned he announced that the family was moving to Europe and that he had a new job over there. When they arrived in Paris Johnny’s mother was offered a job and it was decided that Johnny should stay with his mother brother, his Uncle Paul. Uncle Paul is in the process of building an airplane or un avion in French. The adventure starts in a Paris park. Johnny is taken for walks everyday and a strangely tall man talks to him. He seems threatening and unfriendly but Johnny just can’t put his finger on why. Later he sees that same man in his hotel room trying to convince his parents that they should sell their property in southern France where Johnny’s mother and Uncle Paul grew up. After the Littlehorns decide not to sell Johnny meets the strange man in the park again and he threatens him not to go to St. Charmant, where the property is, but he is so careful with his wording that when Johnny repeats it he just seems like a childish whiner. Johnny’s parents tell him to go anyway and they both make him a bargain. His Dad tells him if he can walk to miles Johnny will get a new bike with a high and low gear. His Mother promises him if he can write a letter in French, which he is just starting to learn, Johnny will get a dynamo light for his new bike. Shortly after arriving in St. Charmant Johnny discovers that there is a Nazi hiding in the mountains by his Uncle’s home. Johnny tells everyone this but after they find no trace on the mountain no one believes him and the men that were helping his Uncle Paul build his airplane were forced to quit by the Mayor. In the end Uncle Paul finishes his airplane with a help of a close friend and Johnny gets to fly the plane and they defeat the Nazi and find his mystery supporters. Everyone credits Johnny with his defeat but it was all by accident that it happened and a bit of miscommunication over a language barrier. A wonderful story and an interesting read.
Personal Notes: The plot line was fabulous, a really interesting idea and topic but not well executed. Even though I loved the story I found myself getting bored and it took me a lot longer to finish this book than it usually takes me. I think it may be that this book is under my reading level and I read better when there are more subplots. I think for anyone age 10 to 12 it would be a great read. It has a lot of interesting points, it teaches the reader some French along with Johnny and shows how easy a new language can be with a little help. It is also fun because of the building of the airplane the process and the work it took were fun to read about.