The Boy and the Airplane

Overview

Kindness needs no words in this soaring tale that is ideal for gift-giving.

When a little boy’s prized toy airplane lands on a rooftop, he makes several rescue attempts before devising an unexpected solution.

Rendered in sepia tones and exemplifying a touching message, this wordless story is gracefully open to interpretation, containing a seed of wisdom for every reader.

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Overview

Kindness needs no words in this soaring tale that is ideal for gift-giving.

When a little boy’s prized toy airplane lands on a rooftop, he makes several rescue attempts before devising an unexpected solution.

Rendered in sepia tones and exemplifying a touching message, this wordless story is gracefully open to interpretation, containing a seed of wisdom for every reader.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Pett’s wordless, somber story, a curly-headed boy’s cherished toy airplane lands on the roof; to retrieve it, he plants a tree next to the shed and waits decades until it grows sturdy enough for him to climb. Time-lapse drawings show the boy standing by the tree, growing older until he becomes an overalls-wearing elderly man. He grabs the airplane with delight, then, sheepishly, gives it to the next child he sees. Pett (The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes) is a polished visual storyteller. Narrow panels denote quickly unfolding action as the boy tries getting his plane down with a ladder, pogo stick, and hose (rust red is the brightest color in his gray-brown palette). Wider panels convey discouragement and longer intervals as the boy sits under a maple tree, catches a falling maple key, then plants it. Despite child-friendly elements in the story, this is really a tale for adults about the passage of time and the unchanging nature of desire. Literal-minded readers are likely to ask why the boy didn’t just fetch a grownup with a longer ladder. All ages. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
In this wordless title, a tousled boy in overalls receives a present that changes his life. The opening depicts the protagonist holding the box on the recto; his gaze follows a leg disappearing from the verso. Once unwrapped, the red ink of the new toy--the titular airplane--contrasts with the muted, lightly flecked, taupe, green and gray backgrounds. Pacing is controlled through subtle changes in these colors, modulating from four varied, vertical panels on a page to unified double-page spreads. After cavorting with a curious bird (which remains a comforting presence throughout), the child launches the plane and watches it land on the roof. Neither ladder, lasso, pogo stick, nor hose offers a solution, but inspiration falls from a tree in the form of a maple seed "helicopter." The boy plants the seed next to the house, and decades pass; finally, the tree's growth allows retrieval. The now-plump, bearded man revels in his toy once again but then pauses, reflectively. The narrative comes full circle as he exits empty-handed stage right, while a girl across the gutter holds a present. Recalling both the ingenuity of Oliver Jeffers' Stuck (2011) and the sense of foreboding in Chris Van Allsburg's Jumanji (1981), Pett's winsome caricatures enact a quietly provocative drama certain to raise questions about the value of patience, the burden of ownership and the ethics related to this instance of "re-gifting." (Picture book. 4-10)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A young boy joyfully receives the gift of a red toy airplane. Across and around the wordless pages he flies it until, tossed too high, it lands on the roof. He tries several ways to get it down, in vain. Finally, inspired by a passing tree seed, he plants the seed. Over time, both the tree and the boy grow. As an old man, our hero finally reaches the plane. Instead of flying it, however, he hands it along as a wrapped gift to another child and exits off the still wordless page as another cycle begins. Pett uses pencil and watercolors naturalistically but most subtly to set the mood. Pages in tones of tan and brown plus the red plane keep the tale low key. A mysterious small bird also appears in many scenes. The boy happily takes the plane from the box on the cover; he "flies" it with the bird on the jacket. The bare bones "story" demands the involvement of the reader. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS—This beautifully designed, beautifully illustrated picture book uses muted beiges and grays for pages resembling brown wrapping paper and spare ink drawings in brown and dark red to tell a wordless story. A boy opens a wrapped package (presumably left for him by the man whose legs are seen walking off the opposite page), and he finds a toy airplane. He takes it outside and flies it, but the plane unfortunately lands on a roof. After various fruitless attempts with a ladder, lasso, baseball, and water hose to retrieve it, the child sits down to think things over, and a seed falls from a tree. He has an idea; he plants the seed and watches it grow to be a tree, as he grows older, too. When he is an old man, he finds the tree has grown enough that he can climb it and reach the roof where the airplane is still waiting. But when he tries to fly it, his arm is no longer strong enough, and the last spread shows a little girl holding a gift-wrapped box as the old man exits on the opposite page. Somewhat reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, this quiet book will captivate youngsters with its gentle charm.—Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442451230
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 407,726
  • Age range: 3 months - 8 years
  • Lexile: NPL (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Pett

Writer and illustrator Mark Pett has practiced his craft in Philadelphia, Prague, the Mississippi Delta, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to illustrating several books, Mark is the “authorstrator” of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes. He is also the creator of the syndicated comic strips Mr. Lowe and Lucky Cow. He lives in Salt Lake City. Visit him at MarkPett.com.

Writer and illustrator Mark Pett has practiced his craft in Philadelphia, Prague, the Mississippi Delta, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to illustrating several books, Mark is the “authorstrator” of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes. He is also the creator of the syndicated comic strips Mr. Lowe and Lucky Cow. He lives in Salt Lake City. Visit him at MarkPett.com.

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