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The Plan

The Plan

by Alison Paul, Barbara Lehman (Illustrator)

As a father and daughter cope with a loss, they rediscover an important piece of family history and begin building a new life. Alison Paul and Barbara Lehman's innovative picture book collaboration proves the only difference between reality and a dream . . . is a plan. 



As a father and daughter cope with a loss, they rediscover an important piece of family history and begin building a new life. Alison Paul and Barbara Lehman's innovative picture book collaboration proves the only difference between reality and a dream . . . is a plan. 


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 08/17/2015
Paul (Sunday Love) uses clever wordplay for the text of her story, starting with the word “plan,” then adding or subtracting a single letter to create each subsequent word: “plan... plane... planet.” The plot is complex, but easy to follow in Caldecott Honor–winner Lehman’s (The Red Book) neatly drafted panels. A farm girl in overalls, wondering about the plane sitting unused in her yard, uses a key to open a room full of memories. Her parents were once stunt pilots, she discovers in a scrapbook album. The photos prove an inspiration; the father realizes that his daughter is old enough to fly with him, and they ready their plane so they can set off into the sky—probably not to Saturn, the “planet” of the girl’s “plan,” but as close as they can get. The presence of the family dog (something of an aviator, himself) brings additional sweetness, while a panel of father and daughter visiting her mother’s grave strikes a somber note. This lovely story blends a sense of rootedness with the spirit of exploration—a rare combination. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, Studio Goodwin Sturges. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

* "Ultimately, hearts will soar with the characters as they fly away in their lovingly restored plane."
Booklist, starred review

• "Warmhearted and joyful."
Kirkus, starred review

• "This lovely story blends a sense of rootedness with the spirit of exploration—a rare combination."
Publishers Weely, starred review

"In this cleverly crafted story, a single word changes by a single letter (added, subtracted, or changed) to move the story along in the next frame or page...the changing words are cunningly developed, and audiences will enjoy guessing what might come next."
Children's Literature - Ann L. Kreske
The desires of a daughter re-awakens the adventurer in her father and helps both of them to realize a dream. Through images outlined in ink, watercolor and gouache, readers get a clear sense of a girl’s dream to fly to the planet Saturn; her and her father’s simple, but happy and fulfilling, life on a farm; her parents’ past as stunt performers in an aviation show; the loss she and her father have endured; and the way her aspiration takes them to the sky again. The cheerfully colored and detailed pictures draw readers into the story while also enabling older children to create their own details, and interpret and add to the tale. These illustrations are accompanied by one-word content that appears on most pages. There are a total of twenty words, with each word beginning with the letter “P.” One letter change at a time, the words shift and morph to describe the images on each page. The wordplay serves as a fun learning tool for beginning readers and at times helps d focus elements of the scenes depicted so as to make them more understandable. However, the text sometimes causes confusion and distracts the reader from the flow of the illustration’s narrative. In general, the lovely artwork and fairly complex plot could serve as a wonderful starting point for discussions with older children about roots, family history, and following one’s hopes and dreams, but the simple text and wordplay define the level to be more appropriate for those who are just learning how to read. Reviewer: Ann L. Kreske; Ages 3 to 6.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Using only 10 letters to make 20 words, Paul provides the scaffold on which Lehman builds a story. Paul's word ladder, in which letters are added or subtracted from one page to the next: "pals/ Pa's/past/post" are fun, but it's Lehman's watercolors that form a narrative. Her firmly lined pen-and-ink drawings are easily interpreted as they depict a little girl who longs to fly the abandoned bi-plane sitting on her family farm and the way she persuades her widowed father to take to the air again. Readers may feel left hanging by the unexplained backstory. Viewers see father and daughter visiting her mother's grave, but have no idea how she perished. VERDICT It's all a bit sketchy.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-07-27
A child's desire to fly to space turns into a transformative project with her father. On the title page a girl sits by a mailbox at the edge of a farm, chin resting in hands, a dog by her side. An old biplane by the chicken coop is partly covered in vines. Lehman's illustrations, outlined in pen and colored with watercolor and gouache, have a simple, graphic-novel feel. A Curtis Jenny stamp, a fragment of an encyclopedia, and the girl's drawings tell the story of her plan: to fly to Saturn. The story is nearly wordless, with a single changing word appearing in bold text on some pages: plan becomes plane, then plane becomes planet as the girl demonstrates to her dog, with toys, how they might travel. She finds a key that is Pa's—and a look through a photo album becomes a discovery of a barnstorming poster in the attic: past. The 20 words help to ground the story as it unfolds, telling why the plane sits in the weeds, who flew it before, how it will get back into the air. They offer listeners and beginning readers a way to understand and participate in the narrative arc. Finally, girl, father, and dog come round to "plan" again—accomplished at last as they fly home from a picnic under a starry sky. Warmhearted and joyful. (Picture book. 3-8)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Alison Paul was born on a Halloween morning. (Her parents are still wonder whether she was a trick or a treat.) She grew up in sunny California and lived a comfortable, snow-free existence until attending the Rhode Island School of Design. She lives in Providence and is an art professor at the University of Connecticut.

Barbara Lehman has illustrated many books for children, including The Red Book, which was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 2005. Born in Chicago, Barbara attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she earned a BFA in communication design. A full-time illustrator, Barbara says, “Books and art have always held the strongest attraction for me. I have always felt drawn to ‘commercial art’ because of its ability to reach many people. I like the idea of being part of the media in a meaningful and thoughtful way, especially with children as the audience.” She lives in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Visit her website at www.barbaralehmanbooks.com.

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