Betty Brock’s 1970 No Flying in the House is a standalone children’s fantasy. Illustrations are by Wallace Tripp.
As son as Mrs. Vancourt sees the tiny white dog named Gloria, she covets it. Her resolve is only increased when she discovers that Gloria has mastered many many tricks … why, Gloria can even speak 😊 How her friends would envy Mrs. Vancourt if she were to own such a marvelous dog!
Gloria is willing to move into Mrs. Vancourt’s house. There is, however, a catch. Mrs. Vancourt must also provide three-year-old Annabel Tippens with a home.
Annabel’s parents are not dead … but they are not available, for reasons revealed later in the story. Gloria has taken over childrearing duties. Mrs. Vancourt doesn’t particularly want to deal with a toddler, but her immoderate craving for the dog wins out. Both dog and child move into the Vancourt home.
Annabel is an adorable, well-behaved child. One would have to have a heart of stone not to love her. Well … perhaps Mrs. Vancourt has a slightly stony heart because, while she is distantly fond of Annabel, she doesn’t let herself love the child.
The household, already a bit odd, becomes even odder when a talking cat infiltrates the home. The cat hides and sidles around corners to avoid the dog, but is chatty and friendly with young Annabel. “Did you know” asks the cat, “that Gloria actually belongs to Princess Felicia?” And again, “Did you know, Annabel, that you’re really a fairy?”
These things may be true. But what is also true is that the cat has neither Annabel’s nor Gloria’s best interests at heart.
Mrs. Vancourt is not quite as flint-hearted as she first appears. She has a tragic backstory, as the reader eventually learns.
I am not entirely certain what ages the author is targeting, but I would guess that this book is for the very young. Perhaps a book to be read to a child? The prose is quite straightforward. Tripp’s competently executed illustrations make it very clear just who and what the characters are. One knows immediately not to trust the cat.
This is the sort of fairy tale in which someone is being tested (will you share your food with the old woman who is a disguised fairy?). The tester is perhaps not entirely fair. It’s the fae way to do things, as we all know.
Annabel is not aware of the nature of the story she is in, which is why she makes a number of unfortunate decisions. Understandable: she’s been denied important information and she is, after all, just a little girl. We also learn that it’s a family tendency to make unfortunate choices.
This is a children’s book. Adults will probably see some of the plot twists coming from a long distance. Well … smart children may also see them coming. It’s still an enjoyable book. If you have a small child you might want to get this book. It might just be one of those books that that will be remembered with nostalgic fondness decades later.