I am trying to find a book that was in my elementary school library. I read it around 1978-1980.

I have no idea of the title but I remember the following plot points: a girl who lived on the edge of town possibly African American, sort of an outcast, befriends a group of kids possibly 4-5 and teaches them to fly. They have adventures. At the end, an old woman sees them flying, and asks if the girl could teach her, but the girl responds that adults can't fly. The old woman answers that she thought so. There may be some Phoenix imagery surrounding the girl.

The book could be older than when I read it. I just remember being so sad for the old woman, like why can't adults do fun things like that too. Thank you!

  • 2
    Are you sure it was a girl who taught them to fly? If it were a boy, a good match would be "The Summer Birds" by Penelope Farmer. Jul 6, 2022 at 0:04
  • That sounds more like it! Thank you so much!!! Wow, I was really off.
    – Laura
    Jul 7, 2022 at 12:12
  • 1
    Glad to help Laura! If you think my answer is correct, can you click the check-mark next to it to "accept" it? Then people will know that the question has been answered. Thanks! Jul 7, 2022 at 12:46
  • Thanks! I did ! Also, were you familiar with the book already or did you do a search? Just curious. I tried different searches and didn't come up with anything. Maybe cause I thought it was a girl. Thanks!
    – Laura
    Jul 8, 2022 at 15:43
  • I know Penelope Farmer's books quite well (especially "Charlotte Sometimes"), so the answer just leapt out to me. My only doubt was the boy/girl confusion. Jul 8, 2022 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


Except for it being a boy who teaches the children to fly (rather than a girl in the original question), this fits very well with The Summer Birds, a short novel by Penelope Farmer. First published in 1962 it is definitely possible for it to be in a school library in the 1970s.

The central characters are the sisters Charlotte and Emma Makepeace, who live with their grandfather in a country house called Aviary Hall in the south of England. From the wikipedia summary:

On the way to their small English village school, they meet and befriend a mysterious boy who tells them that he is able to teach them to fly. Over the following days and weeks, the boy teaches Charlotte to fly, and then the other children at the school learn this ability.

Their schoolteacher, Miss Hallibutt, discovers them flying, and asks the boy to teach her too:

"I suppose ... I suppose ... I cannot learn to fly too?"

The boy said apologetically: "No, I can only teach children. You—you are too old."

"Yes, I feared that," said Miss Hallibutt sadly. "You are lucky children. I always wanted to fly at your age— once—once I nearly did. And I suppose as you're here," she said to the boy, "I suppose you had better come to school. And mind you behave.

Rather than having a "Phoenix imagery", I would say the boy has a more of a Peter Pan air - his aim was to get the children to fly to his homeland where they would never grow up.

The book is available to borrow free of charge from the Internet Library.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.