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The Way Back Home

The Way Back Home

3.5 2
by Oliver Jeffers

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From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes an imaginative tale of friendship in a world where what makes us different isn't nearly as important as what makes us the same.

When a boy discovers a single-propeller airplane in his closet, he does what any young adventurer would do: He flies it into outer space! Millions of


From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes an imaginative tale of friendship in a world where what makes us different isn't nearly as important as what makes us the same.

When a boy discovers a single-propeller airplane in his closet, he does what any young adventurer would do: He flies it into outer space! Millions of miles from Earth, the plane begins to sputter and quake, its fuel tank on empty. The boy executes a daring landing on the moon . . . but there’s no telling what kind of slimy, slithering, tentacled, fangtoothed monsters lurk in the darkness! (Plus, it’s dark and lonely out there.) Coincidentally, engine trouble has stranded a young Martian on the other side of the moon, and he’s just as frightened and alone. Martian, Earthling—it’s all the same when you’re in need of a friend.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Jeffers's (The Incredible Book Eating Boy) arrestingly illustrated book begins with the creation of a spare watercolor world-a single, nameless boy on a deserted beach. Quickly the story takes a surprising turn: the boy finds an airplane in his closet and crashes it on the moon. When he's joined by a similarly stranded Martian, the two strangers hatch a scrappy plan for rescue, suggesting a moral: it's good to work together. After the unusual narrative leaps at the beginning of the story, the message feels a little forced, and it's less fun than expected. Even so, a quality reminiscent of TheLittle Prince comes through, not just in the lone boy/outer-space setting, but in the balance between the humor in the predicament and loneliness. These two emotions are matched perfectly by the mixed-media art. Colorful figures swim in vast amounts of negative space, isolated and a bit melancholy, but their postures and faces are playful, almost comic. An odd scale and lopsided figures suggest a world off-kilter, while silly monsters and impossible feats keep things light. With uneven graphite outlines on watercolor-soaked paper that reveals the grain of the paper, the overall effect is tactile, textured and even a little childlike. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
When a boy finds an airplane in his closet, he decides to "take it out for a go right away." And away he flies until he runs out of gas and gets stuck on the moon. As his flashlight fades and he finds himself alone and afraid, "someone else" also lands on the moon with engine trouble. At first the boy and the arrived young Martian are both afraid, but soon they figure out together how to fix their machines so they can get home. The boy parachutes from the moon into the sea and swims home in time for his favorite program, but then he remembers what he has to do, for he has left the Martian on the moon. He is pulled back up to the moon to fix the Martian space ship while receiving fuel for his plane. Then they can both go home. It takes only the sparest of contexts to set the visual stage for this modern fantasy. The two youngsters are visualized with rectangular bodies round heads, minimal faces, stick legs, and no feet. The illustrations are done with watercolors, graphite, and collage; the red plane, creamy crescent moon, and green-faced Martian somehow all work set against the dark sky, while other adventures are on white pages. The series of nine vignettes showing the kids communicating and solving their problems is a gem. Somehow we believe it all. The final page is a provocative, a possible introduction to a sequel? Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2- Surprised but unfazed to find an airplane in his closet, a boy flies it to the moon, runs out of gas, meets a similarly stranded Martian, and makes a new friend. The charm of this story is how completely it maintains a childlike perspective. The boy is putting a full-size rowboat away when he finds the airplane: "He didn't remember leaving it in there, but he thought he'd take it out for a go right away." This approach continues in the watercolor, graphite, and collage artwork. Figures consist of circle heads, box bodies, and stick legs; the backgrounds are flat colors with a few scribbled-in clouds or puffs of exhaust. Humorous details abound. Before his initial flight, the boy systematically dresses in jacket, scarf, helmet, goggles, and gloves, then does a few stretches to prepare fully. After meeting the Martian, he parachutes home for supplies but gets distracted by his favorite television show. The Martian waits, impatiently checking his wristwatch. Eventually, the boy returns to the moon via a rope, both vehicles are repaired, and the travelers prepare to depart, wondering if they will ever meet again. The last page provides hope of keeping in touch when the boy receives an unusual transmitter in the mail. The message that friends are friends whether they are near or far comes through in a warm, amusing manner.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

Kirkus Reviews
A boy (who bears a striking resemblance to the boy in Lost and Found, 2005 and How to Catch a Star, 2004) finds an airplane in his closet. Though he doesn't remember putting it there, he decides he should take it out for a flight. After flying higher and higher, he finds himself stranded on the moon with a dying flashlight. Following scary sounds, he meets a friendly Martian in a similar predicament. They make a list of what they need in order to fix both crafts, and the boy parachutes back to Earth. He's so tired, he initially forgets his mission. Then he remembers, gathers their equipment and hollers for the Martian to lower a rope. The two fix each other's machines and say their goodbyes. A peek at the last page shows that the friendship is far from over. Jeffers's latest tale of loneliness cured by friendship is as charming as his previous efforts. The space theme as well as the simple watercolor-and-pencil illustrations will please every young, imaginative adventurer. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

 Oliver Jeffers (www.oliverjeffersworld.com) makes art and tells stories. His books include How to Catch a Star; Lost and Found, which was the recipient of the prestigious Nestle Children’s Book Prize Gold Award in the U.K. and was later adapted into an award-winning animated film; The Way Back Home; The Incredible Book Eating Boy; The Great Paper Caper; The Heart and the Bottle, which was made into a highly acclaimed iPad application narrated by Helena Bonham Carter; Up and Down, the New York Times bestselling Stuck; The Hueys in the New Sweater, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year; and This Moose Belongs to Me, a New York Times bestseller. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Oliver now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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Way Back Home 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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