cover image We Own the Sky

We Own the Sky

Rodman Philbrick. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-338-73629-8

Philbrick’s gripping, coastal-Maine-set historical novel opens in 1924, with 12-year-old Davy Michaud and his 17-year-old sister, Jo, burying their mother—a French Canadian emigrant whose cotton mill job led to a “lung ailment” and death not long after their father perished in a mill accident. Facing eviction from the mill-owned tenement where they live, Davy and Jo are relieved when their mom’s famous aviatrix cousin Ruthie whisks them off to work at her flying circus for the summer. Both captivated and terrified by the high-flying acrobatics, Davy is soon won over by a warm welcome from the daredevil pilots and crew, and the start of his own popular act. But the growing presence of the Ku Klux Klan in Maine jeopardizes the children’s life among the circus’s bustling, closely bonded community, comprising immigrants to the U.S. who cue largely as white. Employing a reminiscing tone, Philbrick (Wild River) uses Davy’s extrasensory first-person narration to describe the Klan’s vitriolic rhetoric and violence, as well as behind-the-scenes details around airborne stunts. Chapters filled with plenty of suspense and danger also, as discussed in an author’s note, convey the terror that the KKK inflicted on immigrants in northern states. Ages 8–12. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Sept.)