When a father who dreams of flying goes off to war and does not return, his son decides to make the dream come true. Grahame Baker-Smith’s moving story, with stunning illustrations, shows how, with love and a bit of ambition, you can reach seemingly impossible goals.

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When a father who dreams of flying goes off to war and does not return, his son decides to make the dream come true. Grahame Baker-Smith’s moving story, with stunning illustrations, shows how, with love and a bit of ambition, you can reach seemingly impossible goals.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Baker-Smith (Leon and the Place Between) won the 2011 Kate Greenaway Medal for this tale of a father lost and a dream reclaimed. The young narrator remembers a father gripped by the dream of flight, forever making wings and launching himself off the rocks above the sea. He never succeeds, and, though he clearly loves his son, his eyes are always on the sky. “Such a busy, bossy dream,” the son recalls, “that would not leave him alone or give him the time to play or sleep or think of other things.” Baker-Smith’s gilded images of the father’s elaborate winged contraptions and placid spreads of sky and clouds offer hope. But the army takes the father away (“I will always remember the day he left—the clothes they gave him, khaki against the scarlet poppies”), and he never returns. Years later, the boy realizes that his father’s dream has become his own. As a story with a long horizon and a mysterious loss, it may leave some readers uneasy, but its portrait of the complex, delicately balanced relationship between father and son lingers. Ages 5–7. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Our narrator introduces his father's house, "rooted in rock," where his father dreams "of air and flight." Together they would run, fish; play, until his father went back to dreaming of flying again, making only unsuccessful wings. One day his father marches off to war. Years pass as our hero grows up. Then his father's dream speaks to him. He "takes up the old wings..." And he actually flies, feeling his father with him. Now he has his own son, and wonders what he will do, "If my father's dream should visit him?" The intent of this mystical tale may be seen on the paper jacket with its portrait of father and son on a rocky crag, feathers around them and brilliant red poppies at their feet. They stare out at us as if lost in some dreamy adventure. Delicate drawings on the end pages relate to the jacket, while the cover shows only the cloudy blue sky. The first double page adds to the mystery with its distant house in silent vigil over the surrounding sea. The digitally produced illustrations combine photographic realism with the sculpturesque characters of this mysterious tale. The final textless page offers even more mystery. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—The narrator reminisces about his father's dream to make a flying machine. The man works ceaselessly on the project without success, stopping to play with his son only when the longing to "claim the sky" abates periodically. That longing is silenced forever, however, when the father goes off to war and never returns. Years pass, and the son "[takes] up the old wings" left by his father and does succeed, soaring into the "vast blue sky" where he feels his father's presence. Eventually, he shares his dream with his own son. The digitally rendered illustrations offer great variety as they enrich the brief text. There are single pages and spreads, framed half sheets, and snapshotlike vignettes. The lacy filigree and feathers of the father's flying machine seem as elusive as his dream. The family's home stands high on a cliff overlooking the immense sea, and varying shades of blue throughout echo father's and son's longing for the sky. There are sepia tones as well and grays that eventually morph almost to black as father sets off to war. One striking illustration depicts the winged, laurel-wreathed father atop a column ready to soar much like Daedalus of old, a Greek temple in the background. This evocative story will surely elicit discussions about having dreams and the persistence necessary to accomplish difficult goals.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
Kirkus Reviews
A dream of flying is passed down from son to son. A boy lovingly remembers his father and their house on a craggy cliff overlooking the sea, with a pathway of red poppies. In that house, his father worked ceaselessly to fashion a flying machine made of "the feathers of a thousand hopeful wings." Sometimes the dream would fade, and then father and son would take time to play. That dream is never to be realized, as the day comes when the father dons a uniform and leaves for a great war, never to return. Years later, the son, now grown, resumes work on the machine, succeeds and then shares the vision with his own son. The narration unfolds in a series of snapshots, as in an album, with some large and some small, some in monotones and some with splashes of color and golden threads. These digitally rendered illustrations create a surreal and sophisticated landscape that complements the measured cadence of the first-person narration. Perhaps it is an allegory of man's quest to reach the stars or perhaps just a tale of filial devotion. Winner of Great Britain's 2011 Kate Greenaway Medal for distinguished illustration in a book for children. Evocative and moving. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763663704
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 977,535
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.18 (w) x 11.36 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Grahame Baker-Smith, a self-taught illustrator, was inspired to create this book after his experiences of being a son and now having a son of his own. His first title for Templar Books, Leon and the Place Between, was short-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal, and FArTHER went on to win in 2011. Grahame Baker-Smith lives in Bath, England, with his wife and three children.

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