Easy Reading. Grade level is 5.6 according to the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula.
“THE serenade is a simple and moving story of the war in the air. The big bird was a Flying Fort. She had a crew of ten men and all but one of them were 20 to 24 years old. Bert Stiles was the co-pilot. He had been in college before he joined and had ability as a writer. The pilot was Sam Newton. Beach, who was 34, was the ball turret gunner. and the only man in the crew who was married. He had been a mechanic before the war. He was a sleepy sort of guy. They went out on missions together into Germany from England. They ran into flak and had the daylights scared out of them, and burned out their guns shooting down 109's and Focke-Wulfs. They dropped bombs on Berlin and other cities, and hated war, and did not like to think what their bombs had done. …“There was none of the tense struggle of physical combat in young Stiles’ life. You just sat there and took it—faced death up in the cold sky and couldn't do anything about it. Any time you might disintegrate in a blast of flame. It didn't help the nerves.” From a review in the New York Times.
“A book of terrific impact. Perhaps the best to come out of World War II.” From the Philadelphia Inquirer
Bert Stiles flew 35 missions as co-pilot of a Flying Fortress—the "big bird" of the title. SERENADE TO THE BIG BIRD is a vivid, close-up view of life in the bomber squadrons of the U.S. Eighth Air Force in World War II. Bert Stiles was a combat co-pilot of a B-17, flying missions over France and Germany in the spring and summer of 1944. This is his book, written between missions— a beautiful and terrible and gripping story of one plane and its crew.