You just can't keep a good girl down . . . unless you use the proper methods. Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie. Sure, she hasn't mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she's real good at loop-the-loops. Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma's at her wit's end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents' farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities. School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences. Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore. At turns exhilarating and terrifying, Victoria Forester's debut novel has been praised by Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, as "the oddest/sweetest mix of "Little House on the Prairie" and "X-Men."..Prepare to have your heart warmed." "The Girl Who Could Fly" is an unforgettable story of defiance and courage about an irrepressible heroine who can, who will, who must . . . fly. Praise for Victoria Forester and "The Girl Who Could Fly" "It's the oddest/sweetest mix of "Little House on the Prairie" and "X-Men." I was smiling the whole time (except for the part where I cried). I gave it to my mom, and I'm reading it to my kids--it's absolutely multigenerational. Prepare to have your heart warmed." Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga
"In this terrific debut novel, readers meet Piper McCloud, the late-in-life daughter of farmers...The story soars, just like Piper, with enough loop-de-loops to keep kids uncertain about what will come next....Best of all are the book's strong, lightly wrapped messages about friendship and authenticity and the difference between doing well and doing good."--"Booklist, "Starred Review "Forester's disparate settings (down-home farm and futuristic ice-bunker institute) are unified by the rock-solid point of view and unpretentious diction... any child who has felt different will take strength from Piper's fight to be herself against the tide of family, church, and society."--"The Horn Book Review""" "The Girl Who Could Fly" is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
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Victoria Forester is a successful screenwriter, and originally wrote The Girl Who Could Fly for film. She liked the story so much that she decided to expand it into her first book. Victoria grew up on a remote farm in Ontario, Canada, and graduated from the University of Toronto. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and cat.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Piper decided to jump off of the roof. It wasn’t a rash decision on her part.This was her plan—climb to the top of the roof, pick up speed by running from one end all the way to the other. Jump off.
Finally, and most importantly, don’t fall.
She didn’t make plans in the event that she did fall, because if you jump off of the roof of your house and land on your head, you really don’t need any plans from that point on. Even Piper knew that.
So that’s what she did. She jumped clean off of her roof.But before we get to what happens next, you’ll probably need to know a thing or two about a thing or two.
Piper lived with her ma and pa on a farm. It wasn’t much of a farm to be sure, just an old clapboard house and a bank barn that leaned dangerously to the left. For longer than anyone could remember, the McClouds had lived in Lowland County on those same twenty rocky acres of land. Piper’s grandpa and great-grandpa and great-great-grandpa, and so on and so on, all breathed their first, last, and everything in between right in the same house where Piper was born, and because of that, the McClouds never planned to live anywhere else. Betty McCloud felt that folks ought to stay in one place and not move around too much so that the Almighty knew where to find them if He needed to.
“If the good Lord wanted things to keep changing all the time, then the sun wouldn’t rise up the same way every blessed morning.” Betty was a plain, no-nonsense, solidly round woman who believed in only two things: the Good Book and something that she called “providence,” as in—“I told Millie Mae not to fool with that newfangled gardening hoe. Can’t say I’m surprised them black beetles is eating clear through her tomatoes now. It’s providence, I tell you. Providence.”Unlike Millie Mae, Betty McCloud never tempted providence.Joe McCloud, a lanky man with sun-weathered skin the color of browned autumn leaves, never said a word about providence, but then he never said much about anything. If pressed with a question, he’d likely ponder it for a long stretch before ?nding the words to answer in his measured way, “Well, that’s just the way things is.” And the way things was, was plenty good enough for Joe McCloud.So it was in this manner that Betty and Joe quietly went about the business of tending to their land, as the seasons and years passed them by, one no different from the next. And never was it heard to be said in Lowland County that a McCloud didn’t do things as they were supposed to be done. That is, until someone said precisely that.“No, I ain’t. It’s not the way of things.” Betty McCloud argued with Doc Bell when he announced that she was pregnant. After all, Betty had celebrated no less than twenty-five barren years of marriage and was no longer considered a young woman.Four months later Betty McCloud birthed a baby girl.That baby girl was named Piper. Piper McCloud.News of Piper’s birth traveled with great speed through the remote fields of Lowland County, where cows outnumbered people by a ratio of ninety-three to one.“It’s not the way of things,” Millie Mae hotly declared to the ladies’ Tuesday afternoon sewing circle, each one of whom immediately pressed her ears more closely inward. “Fancy a woman Betty McCloud’s age prancing around with a newborn baby! A first-time mother at that. It ain’t right!”Many of the ladies nodded in agreement. Dire predictions soon followed that the child was sure to grow up queer in such circumstances, and without a sibling to boot.For the first time in her life Betty McCloud was tempting providence. And she knew it. She certainly didn’t need the whispers of local gossip to inform her of the fact. In an attempt to restore balance and appease providence, Betty and Joe set about the business of strictly rearing Piper in the prescribed way that McClouds were raised. Which is to say, without a lot of fuss and nonsense and a solid portion of hard farmwork thrown in for good measure. They were simple and honest farmers and they didn’t hold with any fancy child-rearing notions that some city folks got into their heads.Much to their relief, Piper was what every other baby was. At first. It was only when Piper reached the age when most babies were learning to crawl that her development took an entirely different turn.It was a Thursday afternoon like any other that Betty set about changing Piper’s diaper on the kitchen table, no differently than she’d done a hundred times before. When Betty turned away for just one moment, Piper rolled, quick as a flash, off of the edge of the table. Now any other baby would have immediately fallen to the floor and screamed itself silly. Not Piper. To Betty’s astonishment, Piper simply floatedin the air next to the table.“Lord save us,” Betty choked, her hand clutching the terri?ed swallow inside her chest. Piper giggled and bobbed up and down in the air.Betty quickly scooped Piper into her arms and held tightly on to her from that moment on. The word providenceflashed through Betty’s mind. This is what you get when you don’t do things as they should be done, the left side of her head said to the right.As time passed, and despite Betty’s sincere prayers, the situation got worse, not better. Piper was discovered bobbing about the parlor ceiling and either wouldn’t or couldn’t return to the ground. Joe was dispatched out to the shed to fetch the ladder. Several weeks later in the wee hours of the night, Joe discovered Piper sleepfloating several feet above her crib. Then there was that particularly gusty day when Piper suddenly took to floating and was swept up in a wind that carried her three full fields before she became snared in the branches of a tree and Joe was able to fetch her down.When Piper reached the age of five and was still known to unexpectedly float across a room, Betty finally felt that the time had come to broach the matter.“Seems like she ain’t normal is all I’m sayin’,” Betty helplessly offered to Doc Bell.“How’s that?” Doc Bell questioned. Doc Bell had seen generations come and go and all manner of things happen to them in Lowland County. He’d seen the youngest Smith boy cough up a screwdriver and a whole package of two-inch nails. He’d been there when Clara Cassie Mareken’s head turned all of the way around and then back again. Doc Bell had even seen a grown man talk backwards after he was bumped on the head by a hay baler. The little girl dangling her legs off of his examining table had ten fingers and ten toes, was no taller or smaller, no smarter or dumber, no thinner or fatter than a child her age should be. She was, in short, like every other child in the farming community of Lowland.“Well, Mr. McCloud and I, we’ve been noticing that she’s...” stammered Betty, not sure exactly how to describe her condition, “... well, she’s a might high-spirited.”Doc Bell chuckled and turned away to wash his hands. “A child her age should have plenty of energy to spare, but it isn’t anything you need worry yourselves about. Give her plenty of exercise and lots of fresh air. Nothing wrong with her, she’s as normal as you or I.”When Doc Bell turned back around, he discovered that Piper had somehow managed to hoist herself five feet into the air, where she was dangling on the light fixture that hung from the ceiling. There she began to swing back and forth. For the briefest of moments, Doc Bell looked into Betty’s alarmed face and the notion that Piper McCloud might indeed be more than high-spirited crossed his mind. Doc Bell was a man of science, though, and so he naturally let the matter go.“You’ve got a little monkey on your hands, Mrs. McCloud.” Doc Bell chuckled.And upon that medical recommendation and with great relief, Betty decided to let the child be. All the same, she felt it wise to homeschool Piper until such time that her high spirits, however normal they might be, were... well, less high.By her ninth birthday Piper had long nut-brown hair that was fixed into two braids, bright blue eyes (which she liked), more freckles than the sky had stars (which she hated), and her most constant companion was loneliness, as well as some other feeling she couldn’t quite place a name to.“Ever think something’s not right but you can’t get at it, Pa?” Perched atop a fence, Piper watched Joe as he fixed a loose blade on the plough.Joe shrugged uncertainly.“It’s like I got an itch right in here,” Piper continued, pointing to her midsection just below her ribs, “but I can’t get at it and it just keeps scratching at me and scratching at me, but on the inside. You reckon maybe there’s something that’ll make it stop itching so?”Joe shrugged again. He often felt dizzy when Piper talked to him. It wasn’t that the words she used were so different—heck, Piper talked like everyone else in Lowland County. It was the ideas that the child got into her head. She asked questions he wouldn’t have thought up in a million years and couldn’t begin to figure an answer to.“I told Ma about it the other day and she figured it was caused by all the fool ideas I had in my head.” Piper continued, heedless of her father’s inability to respond. “I didn’t think my ideas were fool but Ma says that I’d do better to keep quiet, keep my feet on the ground, and to mind my own business. She says it’s wrong to be frittering away my hours asking questions when there’s work to be done. But I don’t see how a question can be wrong. Can you, Pa? Ma says the Bible sets out what’s right and wrong so we don’t have to bother ourselves with it none but it seems to me that it ain’t so mat...
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