Cover image for Flying solo
Flying solo
Fletcher, Ralph J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, [1998]

Physical Description:
138 pages ; 20 cm
Rachel, having chosen to be mute following the sudden death of a classmate, shares responsibility with the other sixth-graders who decide not to report that the substitute teacher failed to show up.
Reading Level:
590 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.9 3.0 32047.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.8 5 Quiz: 19056 Guided reading level: S.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Paperback

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When the substitute for Mr. "Fab" Fabiano never shows up and his sixth-grade students are on their own, they set out to prove that they can run the class by themselves. With a little ingenuity and some careful planning, they might just succeed. But when a fight breaks out between Bastian Fauvell and Rachel White over a classmate, Tommy Feathers, who died six months earlier, everything begins to fall apart. Can Rachel deal with the anxieties that plunged her into silence the day Tommy died? Inventive and uniquely constructed, "Flying Solo" follows Mr. Fab's students hour by hour as they tackle the challenges of an unusual school day.

Author Notes

Ralph Fletcher is the author of many well-received books for children, including the novels Fig Pudding and Flying Solo , and the picture books Twilight Comes Twice , Grandpa Never Lies , and Circus Surprise . He lives with his family in New Hampshire. Visit him online at

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. What happens when a sixth-grade class is left unsupervised for a whole day? One might imagine that anything but learning would occur. But when a class usually led by a gifted teacher is left to its own devices, something unusual happens: when the substitute teacher fails to show, the children in Mr. Fabiano's class decide to run the day according to the strict but enjoyable routine ingrained in them by their creative, beloved teacher. Rest assured Fletcher's characters aren't goody-goodies. Rather, they are coconspirators as a countdown clock builds the tension: Will they make it through the day without being found out? As they go through their rote exercises, the kids gain self-assurance and self-reliance. They also come to terms with their feelings of guilt, grief, and sorrow about a classmate who died six months earlier. Fletcher expertly balances a wide variety of emotions, giving readers a story that is by turns sad, poignant, and funny, and, little by little, realistic portraits of the complicated kids emerge. There's no Lord of the Flies anarchy in this thoughtful, absorbing novel, which has a story that will linger long after the book is closed. --Kathleen Squires

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Fletcher follows members of a sixth-grade class through a day when their substitute teacher never shows. The students decide not to report that they are alone and to run the class by themselves. Personal issues are woven into the day's events. Rachel has been mute since a classmate who had an annoying, unrequited crush on her died six months before. Bastian, an Air Force brat used to moving, has to decide whether to subject his beloved puppy to a lengthy quarantine when he moves to Hawaii the following day. Sean's alcoholic father and unnurturing home life make him too shy to express his feelings, especially his crush on Rachel. Karen, a natural leader and "good child," takes the reins in the class, making her own evaluations of right and wrong. Jessica, whose parents are judgmental, can't get past her fear of recrimination to enjoy the class' freedom. The students learn about themselves and one another, and several issues are resolved by the end of the day (e.g., Rachel speaks, Bastian gives his puppy to Sean). The resolutions are simple but not pat, the prose is economical but not sparse, and the characters are developed as sketches rather than in-depth portraits, which helps keep the book moving briskly. The premise will make the novel easy to booktalk. Not a must-have, but a worthwhile purchase.-July Siebecker, Hubbard Memorial Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.