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The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
     

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

by Peter Sís
 

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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot—and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from

Overview

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot—and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He battled winds and storms. He tried to break aviation records, and sometimes he even crashed. From his plane, Antoine looked down on the earth and was inspired to write about his life and his pilot-hero friends in memoirs and in fiction. Peter Sís's remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world. This title has Common Core connections.

A Frances Foster Book

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Michael Patrick Hearn
Sis is the master of the picture book biography…The narrative evokes the gentle romantic philosophy of Saint-Exupéry's children's book…The pictures employ a riot of mixed media: translucent watercolor, pointillist pen-and-ink, rubber stamps and scratched color on gesso…Historians may quibble about certain Sisian assertions…Yet none will challenge the beauty of the luminous artwork.
Publishers Weekly
03/03/2014
Following biographies of Darwin and Galileo, Sís celebrates legendary pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944). As in The Tree of Life, Sís supplements a main narrative with time lines and insets, wrapping squint-inducing italics around dreamlike illustrations. Readers learn about Saint-Exupéry’s fascination with flight and roles as a mail and military pilot. The spreads allude to Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la lune and map Saint-Exupéry’s North African mail routes, without examining WWI or colonial history. Sís crafts expansive, nostalgic palimpsests, illustrating the hero’s adventures with precision ink dots on sepia ground, yet he writes with emotional distance. Readers may wonder why Saint-Exupéry’s father, brother, and sister died young; why “hostile nomads” objected to his Moroccan outpost; why his wife has a Spanish name; and how he and his friends survived multiple plane crashes. Sís recounts astounding feats in an offhand tone (two fliers landed their plane “on a ledge” in the Andes, then “rocked it until it went over the edge and started up”). Gorgeous, densely imagined, yet fragmented in its telling, this narrative will send readers beyond The Little Prince to hear more of this mind-boggling story. Ages 5–9. (May)
From the Publisher
“*Sis' mystically touched style enhances this biography of famous French aviator and author Saint-Exupery.” —BCCB, STARRED REVIEW

“Visually stunning, this accumulation of words, pictures, and design takes you to The Little Prince, or back to it, with fresh understanding and admiration.” —The Horn Book

“Sís’ works are less picture books than little miracles of design, a craft he now devotes to a biography of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince. That de Saint-Exupéry’s life was interesting in its own right—growing up fatherless, pioneering ever-more dangerous airmail delivery routes, flying in WWII—is nearly besides the point, because Sís has created such a compelling, multilayered visual treat.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“*Sís's handling of the aviator's last flight and disappearance strikes just the right notes of mystery, majesty, and quiet wonder that connect the life and longings of Saint-Exupéry to those of his young, fictional friend. Brilliant bookmaking.” —SchoolLibrary Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“*Extraordinary and wonderful.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Gorgeous, densely imagined, yet fragmented in its telling, this narrative will send readers beyond The Little Prince to hear more of this mind-boggling story.” —Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
There are never enough picture book biographies, the type of book that answers a need for an illustrated story about a famous historical figure. In his inimitable style, Peter Sis has created just such a book, but with layers of history to place the subject in a time-appropriate context. The actual story of the author of The Little Prince is told succinctly in brief bites of fact. From his privileged birth in 1900 France, Antoine De Saint Exupery had all of the markings of an adventurer. He was fascinated by flight and airplanes and determined early to make his living as a pilot. This involved apprenticeship jobs such as a mechanic and mail pilot to begin with, but it was also part of his training to learn to fly long distances and to learn to navigate visually. The world that Saint Exupery sees from his cockpit is amazing and fanciful in Peter Sis’s skilled hands. The continents of Africa and South America stare at each other with mountain peaks serving as their eyeballs. World War II, which drove the author to leave his homeland and immigrate to the United States, is explosively red with spatter-paintings of explosions above a toy-like line of German tanks. A double-page spread of the ocean, with an oval shaped center of glittering waves under a round white moon, is the stunning centerpiece of this glorious book. It is clear that the world itself was the inspiration for the author’s unmatched masterpiece, The Little Prince. There is so much information for an observant reader to explore in this book, including historical tidbits marching across each page in a timeline format. The disappearance of Saint Exupery in a plane crash leaves the end of his life ambiguous, but ties it to the magical world of his greatest creation. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 6 to 10.
School Library Journal
★ 04/01/2014
Gr 4 Up—As in his works about other restless souls who charted their courses by the stars and pondered big questions (Columbus, Galileo, Darwin), Sís's picture-book biography of the famous French aviator and author comprises multiple layers. Trim but informative sentences ground the pages where text appears ("When he was four years old, his father died unexpectedly. The boy wondered, Where did he go?"). Sensitive readers will follow that question into the heart of the story that encompasses Saint-Exupéry's childhood, passion for flying, experiences with military and commercial planes, multiple crashes, risk-taking temperament, friendships, marriage, and publications. Dates, places, events, and exploits swirl around smaller images framed cleverly with bubbles, sequential panels, maps, or airplanes. The emotional content comes through the changing colors and compositions of Sís's exquisite double spreads. Many are wordless, as when the pilot stands at the edge of the vast turquoise ocean; above the horizon, twinkling yellow stars form the curls and eyes of the title character of The Little Prince. Sís is as adept at drama (the red paint bleeding from the sky as the Germans bomb France) as he is at subtle humor (an aerial view of Manhattan portrays the city as an alligator-shaped landmass emerging from a sewer). Slyly inserted referents, from an elephant inside a "hat" to a Méliès moon, add meaning. Sís's handling of the aviator's last flight and disappearance strikes just the right notes of mystery, majesty, and quiet wonder that connect the life and longings of Saint-Exupéry to those of his young, fictional friend. Brilliant bookmaking.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-03-17
What was essential about one golden-haired boy in love with flying becomes visible in Sís' richly visual biographical portrait of French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Sís covers the basics: Saint-Exupéry briefly studied architecture, then was a pioneer air mail pilot and began to publish his stories. Assigned to the mail station at Cape Juby in the Spanish Sahara, "he loved the solitude and being under millions of stars." He spent two of the war years exiled in New York and finally returned to fly for France. Sís' work invites readers to take time, to attend to the narrative in both the straightforward text and the nuanced, complex pictures. Antoine's pilot friend Guillaumet advises him "to follow the face of the landscape": A small plane flies over faces in the dunes (perhaps a nod to Saint-Exupéry's Terres des Hommes). A desert fox greets one of Antoine's several crashes, but instead of direct speculation about Saint-Exupéry's inspiration for The Little Prince, Sís offers a multifaceted look at the author as adventurer and dreamer. Saint-Exupéry disappeared over the sea near Corsica in 1944: In Sís' poignant illustration, the lines of the Lockheed P-38 become the wings and bicycle of a flying machine, a little like one Antoine made as a child. Extraordinary and wonderful. (Picture book/biography. 6-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374380694
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
05/27/2014
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
827,527
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Peter Sís is the internationally renowned author and/or illustrator of many books for children. He is the recipient of the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration and has also been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. He has lived in and around New York City since 1984.

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