Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

Home > Books > The Closest Thing to Flying

The Closest Thing to Flying

Book Synopsis

Present day: Semira doesn’t know where to call home. She and her mother came to England when she was four years old, brought across the desert and the sea by a man who has complete control. Always moving on, always afraid of being caught, she longs for freedom. 1891: Hen knows exactly where to call home. Her stifling mother makes sure of that. But her Aunt Kitty is opening her eyes to a whole new world. A world of animal rights, and votes for women, and riding bicycles! Trapped in a life of behaving like a lady, she longs for freedom. When Semira discovers Hen’s diary, she finds the inspiration to be brave, to fight for her place in the world, and maybe even to uncover the secrets of her own past Gill Lewis is the multi-award-winning and best-selling author of novels including Sky Hawk, White Dolphin, and A Story Like the Wind. This is her unforgettable tale of friendship, hope, and finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.

Our Review Panel says...

Gill Lewis is a skilled and engaging storyteller who weaves through her stories some of the biggest issues of the day. This book is no exception, exploring themes of the origins of the RSPB and with it, the plight of exotic birds, the role and rights of women in society both now and in Victorian England, the life and struggles of refugees in modern Britain, friendship and bullying and how the kindness of a few can make a difference to many. If this wasn’t enough, if you are interested in cycling then this book is also likely to be a winner!

The story focuses on two girls with an unlikely and unusual ‘friendship’ forged across a hundred years through a diary that Semira finds in an old hat box containing a strange hat with a beautiful green bird on it which she is mysteriously drawn to. The green bird awakens something in Semira’s memory about her past. Semira is a refugee from Eritrea who lives with her mother but they are controlled by a man because he promises to sort out their immigration status.

Henrietta lived in the Victorian era and was the child of a wealthy family who owned a feather-importing company, buying the feathers of exotic birds to make hats. Henrietta’s aunt, unbeknown to Henrietta’s parents, introduces her to a group of women who are campaigning for the prevention of cruelty to birds and through this, Henrietta hears of the debate about the rights of women to vote and to determine their own lives – including even things as simple as riding a bike. Semira reads all of this in Henrietta’s diary and many of the issues that touch Henrietta are mirrored in Semira’s life. The diary gives Semira the courage to face up to the bullies in her and her mother’s life and in so doing, reconnects with her own past through friendship, cycling and a lot of courage.

This book is available on these booklists:

The Closest Thing to Flying: Teaching Resources

A resource pack provided by the publisher to accompany the book The Closest Thing to Flying.

The Closest Thing to Flying

the closest thing to flying

Book Details

Author:
Format:
Publish Date:

Booklists you might also like...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your Review

Stone Girl Bone Girl

review

Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Would you recommend the book for use in primary schools?

yes

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Any other comments

Any other comments