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Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind

Overview

A soaring bedsheet carries a young boy on three incredible adventures in this compelling debut by acclaimed film director Gary Ross.

Bartholomew Biddle’s life has always been pretty ordinary, but when a huge wind blows past his window one night, he feels the call of adventure — and he can’t resist the urge to grab his bedsheet and catch a ride. Soon he’s soaring far above his little town, heading wherever the wind takes him! After spending time on an island full of ...

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Overview

A soaring bedsheet carries a young boy on three incredible adventures in this compelling debut by acclaimed film director Gary Ross.

Bartholomew Biddle’s life has always been pretty ordinary, but when a huge wind blows past his window one night, he feels the call of adventure — and he can’t resist the urge to grab his bedsheet and catch a ride. Soon he’s soaring far above his little town, heading wherever the wind takes him! After spending time on an island full of pleasure-seeking pirates and at a prep school that boasts a hundred shades of gray, Bart finds himself in a mysterious cove where the wind doesn’t blow. Stuck, Bart is forced to face the fact that his flying days might be over. Will he ever get home again?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ross’s screenwriter background serves his debut well—this novella-in-verse boasts engaging characters, a sturdy plot, and the never-fail enchantment of flying. Bartholomew Biddle, age 10, discovers that strong winds allow him to turn his bedsheet into a parachute of sorts and fly to lands unknown. He idles away several weeks with fun-loving pirates, then stumbles into a dystopian world of regulated sameness (“They wore the same jackets./ They wore the same shoes./ They wore the same shirts/ in the same shades of blues”), where he meets Densmore, a boy who yearns to escape but dares not disobey the rules. Departing alone, Bartholomew lands in a deep canyon populated by generations of pilots who’ve been blown off-course (including a familiar-looking aviatrix named Amelia). Myers’s (Clink) full-color oil paintings draw inspiration from Wyeth and Pyle, sharing the same pure-hearted innocence and theatrical gesture. The pirate episode is the only unnecessary freight in an otherwise fast-moving story about the potential for greatness within every child. It’s not hard to imagine this on a big screen. Ages 6–10. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
With a seductively Seuss-ean cadence, Ross’s verse adventure delightfully dares young and old to seize the day.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Ross’s screenwriter background serves his debut well—this novella-in-verse boasts engaging characters, a sturdy plot, and the never-fail enchantment of flying. . . . It’s not hard to imagine this on a big screen.
—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
When a huge wind blows into Bartholomew's room, he grabs the ends of his bed sheet, stands on his windowsill and flies out over the town. He lands in a treetop overlooking a beach filled with pirates. After several pleasure filled weeks, Bart unfurls his sheet and flies until the wind drops him into a pond covered with muck. He sees school boys in uniforms marching into a building. One boy spots him and speaks briefly before rushing away. Bartholomew creates a comfortable camp spot while he waits for another big wind. A few days later, Densy, the schoolboy, returns and asks for flying lessons. The lessons continue each day until Bartholomew knows it is time to leave. Densy declines his invitation to come along. Bart falls into a canyon with no wind and, apparently, no way out. A strange assortment of lost people greets him, all having been blown there. When Densy later arrives flying with a large school banner, the two friends come up with a plan to climb the sheer rock face and catch the wind at the top. They fly together for a while and then each heads to his home. The story is a tribute to both imagination and perseverance. Unfortunately, the choice to tell it in verse is distracting. The rhythm is uneven and some of the rhymes are a stretch. The intended audience is not clear. With a picture book format of 92 pages, it is too long for young children and may not hold the interest of older readers all the way through. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—In a lengthy poem made up of rhymed quatrains, Ross relates the fantastical adventures of 10-year-old Bartholomew Biddle, who, drawn to the storm raging outside his bedroom window, grabs the corners of his bedsheet and jumps into the wind, learning how to steer as he flies. He awakes in a banana palm above a beach full of grumpy pirates who mellow after he throws them all the bananas and his cashmere sweater. Weeks later, the pirate captain sends him on his way ("…fun isn't fun/when it's all that you know./It may look like fun,/but it's just a big show"). In an abrupt change of scene, Bart finds himself in a town of bored working men and uniformed schoolboys who line up at the sound of a bell. He camps in his bedsheet tent and meets a boy named Densy, who learns to steer an old rowboat, but cannot bring himself to join the adventure. In segment three, Bart lands (for want of wind) in a deep canyon cove populated by a diverse group, all stranded with their myriad flying machines. Joined by Densy and his flying banner, Bart climbs the canyon wall and they catch the wind home. Myers's considerable creativity and talents with oils vivify both characters and scenery. However, a beaming Bartholomew floating high above the city; mean-faced pirates in tattered dress; the odd assortment of flying machines/dwellings-windmill, biplane, circus tent, et al-are not enough to bring this poem to life. The rambling, overly detailed text is the focus here, rather than the storytelling vehicle that it should be. The abrupt scene changes, plot, and wonderful characters suggest a movie script. This story would make a great one!—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Hollywood headliner Ross, who shepherded to the big screen blockbusters such as Big, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville and, most recently, The Hunger Games, here takes flight with his first poetic venture involving a bedsheet, a boy and a whole lot of imagination. When a magical "Grandaddy of Winds" blows through the town of Fairview, 10-year-old Bartholomew Biddle grabs the sheet off his bed and thrillingly lofts into the night sky. The wind first spirits Bart to a tropical island, where he befriends some gnarly-looking pirates, who turn out to be sweet and generous, and learns appearances aren't necessarily what they seem. "You'd have to be daft," admonishes one of the pirates, "to go through this life / judging books by their covers. / If you jump to conclusions, / what's left to discover?" On his next flight, Bart makes the acquaintance of one Densmore Horatio Pool, a boy of similar age who longs to fly but initially lacks Bart's courage to "dare to be daring / when no one will dare you." Densy eventually defies convention, using a school banner to fly to meet Bart, whose third adventure has landed him in a windless canyon where the formerly fearless inhabitants are now literally "stuck in the doldrums." Throughout this witty verse novella, themes of self-reliance, kindness and a belief in all things in moderation resound, and Myers' enchanting, richly textured oils heighten the serious fun spurring the lighthearted didacticism. With a seductively Seuss-ean cadence, Ross' verse adventure delightfully dares young and old to seize the day. (Verse fantasy. 6-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763649203
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 950,720
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.96 (w) x 11.06 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Ross is a critically acclaimed screenwriter, director, and producer who has been nominated for four Academy Awards. His films include Big, Dave, Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, and The Tale of Despereaux. Most recently, he directed The Hunger Games, the first movie based on Suzanne Collins’s best-selling dystopian trilogy. He has also served as president of the Board of Commissioners for the Los Angeles Public Library, as well as on the boards of many other organizations. Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind is his first children’s book. Gary Ross lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Matthew Myers is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including Tyrannosaurus Dad by Liz Rosenberg and Clink by Kelly DiPucchio. Matthew Myers lives in Brooklyn.

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