COAST TO COAST by Betsy Byars


Age Range: 8 - 12
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When Birch's grandfather, "Pop," takes her up in his antique Piper Cub, it's supposed to be his farewell flight: the plane's to be sold, while newly widowed Pop is preparing to move to a retirement home. But Birch takes to flying with zest and, learning that he and Granny had dreamed of a cross-country flight, she persuades him to make the journey now, with her. Not telling her parents until they're well on their way, the two take Pop's dog and some maps and set off on a mildly adventurous trip: the plane's range isn't great, and airports they depend on for gas aren't always open. Compared to the vividly evoked experiences of seeing the world from 3,000 feet up and learning to fly (lots of detail, beautifully integrated), the human drama here takes second place but--like Birch--makes a strong copilot. Birch has just found Granny's poems (Pop never understood them), which reveal her love for him and also her grief at the day-of-birth death of Birch's twin, a secret that is a disturbing revelation to Birch. Meanwhile, she and Pop become real partners and Pop makes decisions (he'll keep the plane). There's a lot of subtlety in these vibrant characters, and even in the apparently stock situation of Mom trying to clean out the family homestead, at Pop's request but without his cooperation. Lively writing, enthralling setting: unusual and entertaining. (Fiction. 8-12)
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-385-30787-X
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992


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