Taking Flight

Julia Green

A & C Black

0713675942

Jun 2006

A father figure is absent for Luke in ‘Taking Flight’ by Julia Green. It is easy to empathise therefore with the sense of closeness existing between Luke and his grandfather, who appears to constitute the boy’s sole paternal influence. His grandfather’s house and its gardens represent a safe-haven for him, an area in which Luke’s imagination is unshackled, a clear opposition to the rigour and rules implied in his school life. The sense of freedom and the ability Luke has to be a child: to explore, to discover, to play and to imagine, relieve him of responsibility.
This carefree existence is shattered by the impending sense of reality that is unwittingly imposed through the concerns of Luke’s mother. ‘In the car, she tells Luke that he ought to help Grandad in the house more. ‘Didn’t you see the piles if dirty dishes in the sink?” This tension between the responsibilities of adulthood and the carefree time of childhood is never resolved and highlights the ways in which children in single parent families sometimes appropriate adult anxieties.
Nonetheless, grandfather’s condition is deteriorating and he is eventually admitted to hospital. Luke makes him a promise that he will look after his pigeons, but soon after realises that his unlikely to recover. The ending to the novel is at once poignant, moving and uplifting as the pigeons fly-off into the sky and Luke and his mother move into the home where he has memories of enjoying his childhood.
‘Taking Flight’ forms one of the novels in A & C Black’ guided reading series ‘White Wolves’, this novel is a part of the ‘Stories that raise issues’ collection for year four pupils and there is a teacher’s resource pack that can be bought alongside it to facilitate use in the classroom. The book, however, is a perfectly satisfactory read in its own right too.

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