Cover Image: The Swallows' Flight

The Swallows' Flight

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Member Reviews

In the years after the Great War, children are born and grow in both Germany and England. In England, Kate and Ruby see both triumphs and tragedies as they grow up in families that resonate with the wounds the Great War left in people. Both struggle to find a best friend until they are eventually evacuated from London as another war draws closer. In Germany, Erik and Hans grow up as best friends always obsessed with flight in one form or another. Their families also echo with scars from the Great War, and as the Nazis start to gain control the boys find themselves stuck fighting in a war they don’t believe in but at least they get to fly and do so together. As WWII develops in earnest, Kate, Ruby, Erik, and Hans’ lives will all intersect in ways that will change them all forever.

This felt old, and I mean that in the best possible way. It felt like an old classic, the kind of book in which you meet a character and watch them grow up to adulthood and meet all their family and friends along the way, like David Copperfield or Anne Shirley. There aren’t that many characters these days that you get to watch grow up. It does make this harder to determine the interest level for, though, because for a quarter of the book the kids are young kids, then solid middle grade for a quarter, and then by the last half they are upper teens/adults. But maybe we don’t need a label, because I think it could appeal to all those ages. The older aged parts don’t have content that is inappropriate for a middle grader, and the younger parts could feel nostalgic for young adults. I really liked how this spanned from just after WWI and then stretched into WWII. It is easy to forget how many of the teens at the beginning of WWII likely had parents who were deeply impacted by WWI and how WWI would’ve been like a presence in many families impossible to ignore, especially those families touched by death or life-altering injuries. It’s an intricacy of life for the kids and teens of WWII era that is often glossed over in modern WWII stories. I know there is another book that evidently talks about the WWI experiences of some of the characters that appear in this book. I haven’t read it yet. (I think I will now since I enjoyed this.) But I didn’t have any trouble understanding anything not having read that. I’m sure I missed some nuances and nods to things that happened in that first book, but they weren’t vital to the plot of this one. I really appreciated the narrator for this audio version. She did an impressive array of accents and distinct voices. The one hazard of listening to the audio book was that initially I failed to pay much attention to the chapter headings when they were read, and it took a couple chapters in for me to figure out that the location was indicated in those (England or Germany) and that it did switch. Overall, if you know someone who likes to read old classics and WWII stories, tell them they must read this.

Notes on content: No language issues that I remember. No sexual content beyond a little kiss. There are perilous circumstances in WWII. Deaths are mentioned but not described much. Some injuries are mentioned. Injuries from WWI that adults are dealing with and deaths in the war are important to the lives of several characters. They are mentioned but also not described in detail. A funny Christmas incident involves a family thinking Grandpa gave alcohol to a child, but it was really water. Later he does give alcohol to a much older teen in a serious circumstance.

I received an ARC of this audiobook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A great WWII historical fiction middle grade book featuring four different children on different sides of the war and the way their stories intersected over the years. Memorable, relatable characters that are easy to cheer for (including a dog!). I really liked the focus on the two German boys and the way they got wrapped up in Hitler youth and how the author humanizes these boys doing what they had to do to survive. Heartwarming and heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting and very educational for younger children. Great on audio. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ALC!
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The Swallows' Flight is a fabulous book. The characters are wonderfully well drawn and engaging. There are quite a few of them and their stories gradually weave together. 

The audio book is really well done and I loved listening to every minute of it. 

If you love a good historical fiction with believable and engaging characters, then you can't go wrong. It is as much a tale about love and friendship as it is about life during World War II.

Thanks to Orangesky Audio and to NetGalley for an advanced review copy of this title.
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This wonderfully atmospheric historical novel explores children coming of age in the interwar period and during the Second World War. The story is told largely from the alternating points of view of German boys Hans and Erik, and English girls Kate and Ruby (who are relatives of characters in McKay’s equally brilliant World War I era book The Skylarks’ War). This is family saga about how circumstances shape the choices we have – and how our values and experiences can help us forge our own identity despite (or because of) these circumstances. The novel is carefully researched and includes key events like Kristallnacht and the Blitz, but it is largely about friendship, hardship, kindness and cruelty. It features a huge variety of personalities who sometimes clash and sometimes mesh; I especially adored grumpy Grandad and ‘Dog’– who will break and re-make your heart. 

I absolutely recommend the audiobook version as the superb narration augments the brilliant characterisation. This is a book to savour, and the audio version helps to slow down the reader to appreciate the nuances, quirky or poignant moments -- and of course the evocative use of language.

Highly recommended for Year 5 and up – an ideal read for my Year 7 and 8 students.
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While I do feel I might give The Swallows Flight a cautionary  mention, i cannot recommend a student read this book. I as an adult, had trouble with the drowning of those kittens and again later when the WWWII  Germans knocked  on the door loudly and proceeded to ransack the family’s home. It was clearly only a matter of time before the family would have to endure this event.  While you may know it will happen, when I does, it’s  a sickening surprise. Then in the following chapters became quite bored.  I was given an advance copy of the audiobook by #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This is my honest review, while I might mention it to other adults to read it first before allowing their children to read. They are certainly the best judge if their own children are mature enough to handle the unsettling parts of this book.  After reading, the parents would be equipped to discuss the book in a safe environment with their child.
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3.5 The Swallow’s Flight is a war story for middle school age I would say. I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was written well. The book started pretty strong, but was hard to get through about halfway through. It felt like it was dragging a bit. Overall, a good story that I know some students of mine would really enjoy.

Thank you OrangeSky Audio on NetGalley for this copy.
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Overall a sweet character-driven story set around WWII and in different countries. Maybe because it was an audiobook, I found the characters difficult to keep track of. It was quite uplifting given the time period, but at the same time I'm not sure it's really meant for a middle-grade audience.
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Format: audiobook
Author: Hilary McKay ~ Title: The Swallows' Flight ~ Narrator: Katherine Press
Content: 3.5 stars ~ Narration: 4 stars

Swallows’ Flight is a good middle-grade historical fiction novel set in the time of war. It is a story of three children: Kate, Ruby from England, and Erik from Germany. And how their lives change when WWII starts. There are a few difficult themes, but this is a story of war. So you can expect that. To be honest, I didn’t like the part about animal harm, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Also, at moments, it was a bit too sad for middle-graders.

Otherwise, I liked it, and I’m sure many children who can read about the war will enjoy it. This novel shows the reader that during the war, there were honest and good people on both sides.

3.5 rounded to 4. Thanks to OrangeSky Audio the for the ARC and the opportunity to listen to this! All opinions are my own.
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This is a Middle Grade Historical Fiction. I really wanted to love this book, and Middle Grade books are normally my thing. I found the characters in this book fall short, and I did not care about them. The beginning of this book was very weird to me. I also found the Historical fiction parts of this book was just ok. This book just was not for me. The narrator of this audiobook was just ok. I received an ARC of this book. This review is my own honest opinion about the book like all my reviews are.
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I was not happy to hear in the story about the boys drowning kittens. I realize the scene it there to make the book authentic to the time period but, I feel it is not a good fit in a children's book. The audio is a little hard to follow bouncing from character to character. I had trouble remembering who the chapter was about. Making the connection between the characters and why they were in the book was confusing in the beginning. Id I was having trouble as an adult I would think children may be confused as well. Overall the story was good and I really enjoyed Ruby's character.
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Oh this was such a stunning read, an absolute masterpiece. Hilary McKay has absolutely nailed writing that gorgeous family dynamic and I don’t think I could read another family without thinking back to how wonderful this was. Moving from childhood to adulthood among war is something that no one should have to do and many times throughout the book I found myself in tears. The writing is beautiful and this is definitely something that I will be going back to.
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A lovely middle school historical fiction and WW11. This started out was 3 parts to the story that will all merge into the one eventually. Children are growing up and figuring out how they’ll handle war and disappointment. 
Wonderfully written with likable characters and a interesting tale. I loved the dog and his journey in the story. That was an extra special treat. 
I highly recommend this to any young teen who’s interested in the war. 
I chose to listen to this and the narrator was Katherine Press and she was great. 
This was 7 hours and 3 minutes of easy listening. 
Thanks OrangeSky Audio via Netgalley.
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