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3.8 4
Middle Grade Fiction 238
A heroine (and a goose) to stand behind
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If youre looking for a plucky heroine (and a really angry goose), then look no farther than Frances Hardinges Fly by Night. Mosca, a 12 year-old orphan, really has nothing to her name other than her pet goose (Saracen, who brings new meaning to the words foul fowl) and her ability to read. In a world where most books are banned and most people cant read, that ability will take her farther than she could have ever imagined.

Moscas father was the one who taught her to read and after his death, shes stuck with her (not-very-nice) uncle. When a traveling wordsmith by the name of Eponymous Clent arrives in town, Mosca hitches herself to him in dramatic fashion even though hes not exactly trustworthy (she has to break him out of jail for them to escape). Shes starved for words and for intelligent conversation.

Their travels soon take them into the deepest conspiracies (some of which may or may not involve her father) of the land. Everyone surrounding Mosca, even Clent, may be friend or foe (and sometimes their status changes on a whim). Her only constant friend is Saracen and goodness knows he cant stand anyone else (he is one vicious goose, which comes in handy quite a few times throughout the story).

Brave and tart Mosca may be just what the land needs, as her actions and decisions change the world around her. Who would have thought one 12 year-old and a crazy goose could have such an effect? Surely not any of the adults around, who constantly misjudge her and are constantly surprised when she winds up getting the best of them.

The character development in this book is really just a wonder and the language is rich and satisfying. If this book were a meal, Id go back again and again for seconds, rolling the words around in my mind like a nice chocolate sauce. Theres drama and intrigue, adventure and danger, and even some humor thrown in. I highly recommend this one for readers aged 9-ish and up (though it doesnt read young and certainly doesnt talk down, so readers aged 12 and up could certainly enjoy it as well&heck, adults really should pick this one up&its really just a beauty). At nearly 500 pages, it may be a bit long for those on the younger end of the scale, but it is so entertaining that I think theyll gobble it up anyhow.
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