‘The Avion My Uncle Flew’ by Cyrus Fisher, 1946
I have been meaning to review this book for ages, as it was definitely a family favourite, and probably our top literature choice of 2015.
The book was recommended to us by a friend as a super way to introduce the French language at the same time as studying the post-war period through children’s historical fiction.
The story is written in such a clever way – the main character is sent to his uncle’s village in France to convalesce and recover after breaking his leg back home in America, and strikes a deal with his parents that, if he manages to be walking again and if he has learned to speak French by the end of the summer, they will get him a fancy new bicycle.
Johnny stays with his uncle in a boarding house in the village because their home had been destroyed in the war, but the uncle is working on making an aeroplane of his own design, to reverse their fortunes, and so he does what he can to help as his leg improves.
So as we follow the story of his recovery, we also follow his learning the language. We start off by learning the odd single word in a sentence, and by the end of the book there are whole pages in French.
In addition, the story is interwoven with a spy mystery and adventure as Johnny discovers that not all is as it seems in the sleepy French village in the mountains.
“Seldom do we find so happy a combination of charm of
Style, local color, humor and thumping good adventure as is set forth in this tale.” – School Library Journal
Lots of fun! Highly recommended as a read-aloud.