The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéryby Peter Sís
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 pilotand 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
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 pilotand 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
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)
“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 rightgrowing up fatherless, pioneering ever-more dangerous airmail delivery routes, flying in WWIIis 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
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
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)
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews