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Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Boy and the Airplane, by Mark Pett. Simon & Schuster, 2013. $18.99 all ages

Wordless books have so much to tell us; we can concentrate all of our attention on the story being told in the artwork. The little boy who graces the early pages of this new book by Mark Pett is on the receiving end of a gift that will change his life. We watch as he accepts it from an unknown someone, opens the package and heads outdoors to spend countless hours with his new airplane. A tiny bird joins in the fun.

He throws it, chases it, and then throws it again. Oops! It lands on the roof, a problem that must be solved. A nearby ladder isn't long enough to be much help. A lasso, a baseball, a pogo stick, a fire hose...all net the same result.

As he ponders the unsolved problem beneath a shady and comforting tree, a single maple seed flutters down and lands on his hand. Taking a spade to dig a hole, he plants that seed and then waits and watches its very slow growth. Through winter snowfall and spring budding, from small boy to grown man, then older man, and finally old, overalled, white bearded man, he spends his time watching his tree with hopes high and a plan in mind.

Finally, he is able to climb the tree, and retrieve his beloved plane under the watchful eye of a friendly and curious bird. He gets long-awaited joy from flying it once more. One day when he is ready to launch it again, he has second thoughts. His solution is a perfect ending! Then, he exits the double page spread just as the giver had done so many years ago.

There is a quiet charm, and lovely sense of patience to this art. The only color is given to the red airplane, while the rest of the illustrations are done in soft sepia tones. It is contemplative and calming as we watch the patience of the young boy as he grows to manhood with the plane always on his mind.

This would make a perfect companion book to Oliver Jeffers' Stuck (Philomel, 2011).

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