a quiet flight & a tree


30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aDay Twenty-Nine: The Boy and the Airplane

by Mark Pett

Simon & Schuster, 2013.


boy and the airplane cover

A little boy.

A lost airplane.

An idea takes root… (jacket copy)

This text-less picture book begs for a quiet moment in which imagination might take flight.  And yet, it also invites proper sound effects and zooming about with our own pretty red airplane. The Boy and the Airplane reads like a silent film of old if they were played like the comics drawn at the time (ala Little Orphan Annie).  We are its accompaniment until, well, even the boy grows silent after his plane becomes stranded on the roof–his mouth literally disappears.

boy and the airplane page

The story begins with a boy receiving a gift and in a lovely sequence takes it out to play in the company of a bird. At first he runs with the plane, then becomes the plane, and then sends the plane off for a solo flight. Once the plane lands out of reach on the rooftop, the boy makes several creative attempts to retrieve it. The most creative–and unexpected–attempt is alternately dumbfounding and delightful. I’m still not particularly sure about it as it stretches that delayed gratification model a bit far. Perhaps it is more on patience and how some clever solutions take time. And maybe the results are not ours to enjoy. In the end, the gift given is the gift a little boy-turned-old man can pass along to the next generation. –Just as a gift had been passed on to him at the beginning.

boy and the airplane

The soft greens, blues, and browns of the backgrounds compliment the tone, line-work and deep color-washes. It is a very contemplative, forward-dwelling book at odds with the prevailing ‘for me!’ candy-colored stories. The Boy and the Airplane is tinted with nostalgia in a palatable, accessible way (to those like myself who are rarely giddy at the mention of ‘nostalgia’) and is sure to be of interest to plenty. It would be a good read for any quiet moments proceeding a morning or afternoon out of doors. It has enough energy in the renderings that I wouldn’t recommend it for a night reading as it not only celebrate the quietly expressive, but full-body imaginative play.

I’m looking forward to Mark Pett’s 2014 picture book The Girl and the Bicycle.

pett girl and the bicycle

{images belong to Mark Pett}

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m the opposite and am always giddy at the idea of something being nostalgic. I’m not sure I enjoy any feeling better than that slightly melancholy mixed with wonder feeling of nostalgia. This art, and presentation, is lovely. It is one of those deceptively simple looking books that is truly anything but simple. I wish my library had a copy. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this next time I’m at BN.

    1. L says:

      it is as you say, deceptively simple.

  2. I would love to win a copy of this book .;)

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