I recommend this book for: grade 6 and up
This is probably my favorite book of the summer so far. Matt Cruse was born in an airship, a giant blimp-like vehicle, and has never felt comfortable on the ground. Now a teenager, he works as a cabin boy on the Aurora, a luxury liner, to support his widowed mother and two sisters. He rescues an old man in a hot air balloon who claims to have seen some kind of fantastic winged animal. He nearly forgets about it until the man's granddaughter arrives on the Aurora. Kate deVries is rebellious, beautiful, and determined to find real evidence of her grandfather's creatures. Although they are from vastly different spheres, Kate and Matt are drawn to one another as he tries to help her in her quest. Then, the pirates attack!
This book has something for just about everyone - a wonderfully built fantasy world, a sympathetic narrator who just wants to follow in his father's footsteps, a rich and spunky heroine who does exactly what she wants, pirates, a mysterious desert island, the beautiful creatures, and all the swashbuckling you could ask for. A definite winner - and I've already put the sequels on hold!