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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Anttoine De Saint-Exupery, written and illustrated by Peter Sis. Farrar Straus Giroux, Raincoast. 2014. $21.99 ages 8 and up

"Antoine could only think of flying, but his family hoped he would finish his studies and do something less dangerous. When he was called to military duty, he asked for aviation and was assigned to the ground crew. In time, he learned to fly. Two years after his service, Antoine heard about an airline that was starting to deliver mail..."

Peter Sis writes and illustrates brilliantly detailed stories for children, young and old. Previously he has written biographies of Christopher Columbus, Charles Darwin and Galileo Galilei. As he did in those books, here he brings the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery to our attention. He complements his storytelling with numerous wonderful timelines and charts to further help his readers understand the writer-pilot's life.

He was born almost at the same time as airplanes themselves. Longing to fly, he built his own plane. It didn't fly! Undeterred, he spent his spare time with pilots at the flying field. He convinced one to take him for a ride, and that was it! Later, military duty led to work with the ground crew, and finally success in the air himself. Working with an airline that delivered mail lead to a new reality. He was assigned to take charge of an airfield on his own:

"Antoine rescued stranded flyers. He negotiated with hostile nomads who had shot down planes and held pilots for ransom. He made peace with others, who called him the Captain of the Birds. His life in the desert inspired him to write."

He kept flying and writing, returned to France and married. Always seeking adventure, Antoine had close calls, none quite so dangerous as his war pilot duties during World War II. His disdain for Germany's control over his beloved France led to his move to New York, where The Little Prince was published. Missing France, he returned to active duty in North Africa in hopes of flying back to France. It was not to be...

In a book about adventure and creativity, Peter Sis impresses with the unbelievable detail that is his signature work. It takes time and keen observation to appreciate all that he includes in this story about following your own path to happiness, and success in life. He challenges our eyes and our brain to take in all that he has included in this newest book. It's a perfect read for older children and teens, and for their parents and teachers.

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