Book Review: The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher


After an accident on his Wyoming farm that leaves  twelve year old Johnny Littlehorn on crutches, his French mother decides to send him to France, where hopefully better Doctors and fresh air can cure him.  Johnny is not happy to go to France and even less happy when he finds he must spend the summer with his Uncle in the sleepy little village of St. Charmant. However, once he gets there things soon begin to change.  Johnny is fascinated by the “Automatic Airplane ” his Uncle is building, and begins to grow suspicious when mysterious strangers from Paris seem to have followed him to the village.  With the help of his new friends, Johnny begins to uncover what might just be a Nazi plot, and learns how to overcome his injury and the impossibility of the French language.  The Avion My Uncle Flew is a fun, fast paced story of spies, secrets and sabotage set in the French countryside in the years following the Second World War.  


This was one of my favorite books through middle school. The story was exotic and fresh, yet captured my imagination with the same themes of boyish adventure that can be found in classics like Tom Sawyer or Treasure Island.  The themes of overcoming adversity, friendship and discovery run thick through the pages of this book, and set against the backdrop of a serene Alpine village, the book creates a story world that is hard to get out of.  I thought the characters were all exceptionally well developed and the plot, although breakneck and at times somewhat “coincidental”, was well woven and kept me at the edge of my seat.  I found the elements where Johnny had to learn French particularly interesting.  Along the way you might just pick up a few French phrases yourself.  The parts of the book where Johnny is injured and must push through his pain towards recovery could be encouraging to those battling an injury of sickness.  While the main plot is serious, the author maintains a strong thread of humor through the entire narrative.  Overall this book had the makings of a classic – timeless characters, unique setting and a fascinating plot.  I would highly recommend it. 

  • Ages: 9-99
  • Awards: Newbery Honor
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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