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A valiant tale of achieving your dreams and overcoming the odds to do so.
‘Frances Finkel and the Passenger Pigeon’ by D.M. Mahoney is a valiant tale of achieving your dreams and overcoming the odds to do so. A historical fiction tale based on WWII, we follow the eighteen year old Fran, a competent pilot eager to play her part as a pilot in WWII.
With a tale of friendship and family intertwined as Frances seeks adventure as part of the air force. Although set well within 1940s America, I feel that this storyline will feel relatable to modern teen readers. The coming of age themes throughout seem universal, as are the themes of loss, new friendships, determination and positivity. It’s brilliant to have books that shine a light on strong female lead characters and even better when these books are based in part on the female history and participation in the war, something not always taught in schools.
I think that this book would appeal to historical fiction fans but it also has a wider audience as the main narrative follows a young girl dealing with grief and loss but determined to achieve her dreams, find where she belongs and do what she can to make a difference.
Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Whenever she's in an airplane, Frances Finkel knows it's where she belongs. She grew up learning about avionics in her father's maintenance shop at Seal Rock Airport in Oregon. At 17, Fran's logged over 2,500 hours of flight time. The aviation business in the 1940s is booming, and Fran is eager to go out into the world to prove herself as a pilot. But her mother left after Fran's twin brother died, so now she's held back by the additional responsibilities of running the household and caring for her younger brother.
The talented young pilot longs to make a difference in the world, but first, she must clear the obstacles in her path. Frustrated with her situation, she flies to the wilderness to be alone and winds up rescuing an injured pigeon that she trains to deliver messages. Shortly after her act of kindness, Fran's chance encounter with a stranded pilot in need leads to an exciting journey and the opportunity to fulfill her destiny of flying military aircraft.
The main narrative of this historical fiction tale is of a strong female lead character who is dealing with grief and loss, yet is resiliently determined to overcome the odds against her and realize her dreams. It was inspired by real individuals whose contributions during the Second World War have been mostly overlooked and rarely taught in schools. For example, the few dozen members of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), organized in 1942, were the first female pilots to help deliver warplanes from American factories to airbases across the country. They later merged with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The pigeoneer initiative was another little-known program of the era. The U.S. Army Signal Corps trained pigeons to travel overseas with troops and deliver messages about their location. These birds would sometimes fly hundreds of miles to deliver their messages, even after being injured.
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