Reviews for Boy and the Airplane

Booklist Reviews 2013 April #2
Seldom has a child been so satisfied with a gift as the little curly-haired boy in this wordless story who receives an old-fashioned red toy airplane. He takes it outside and puts it through its paces until the plane gets lost on the roof. The boy's long-term solution to the problem--and his ultimate decision about what to do with the plane once he's recovered it--are what turn this lyrical picture book into a read glowing with warm emotion. Pett's background in comic strips (Mr. Love and Lucky Cow) show through in the long, page-spanning imagery and his ability to convey emotion and story points through simple elements. With just a door, blades of grass, and a bird, he builds an entire world, while the gray tones of his palette create a sense of a bygone era. Without a single word, the story conveys a young child's joy and an adult's selfless generosity in a way that will have special appeal for quiet, thoughtful children. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
A little boy's beloved toy airplane gets stuck on the roof, so he plants a seed in the ground, which, like him, grows, until he's an old man who climbs the tree and...ah, but there's a twist. This inspiring wordless book's refined, nearly colorless pencil and watercolor art keeps the focus where it should be: on the wonder of organic change.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #2
In this wordless title, a tousled boy in overalls receives a present that changes his life. The opening depicts the protagonist holding the box on the recto; his gaze follows a leg disappearing from the verso. Once unwrapped, the red ink of the new toy--the titular airplane--contrasts with the muted, lightly flecked, taupe, green and gray backgrounds. Pacing is controlled through subtle changes in these colors, modulating from four varied, vertical panels on a page to unified double-page spreads. After cavorting with a curious bird (which remains a comforting presence throughout), the child launches the plane and watches it land on the roof. Neither ladder, lasso, pogo stick, nor hose offers a solution, but inspiration falls from a tree in the form of a maple seed "helicopter." The boy plants the seed next to the house, and decades pass; finally, the tree's growth allows retrieval. The now-plump, bearded man revels in his toy once again but then pauses, reflectively. The narrative comes full circle as he exits empty-handed stage right, while a girl across the gutter holds a present. Recalling both the ingenuity of Oliver Jeffers' Stuck (2011) and the sense of foreboding in Chris Van Allsburg's Jumanji (1981), Pett's winsome caricatures enact a quietly provocative drama certain to raise questions about the value of patience, the burden of ownership and the ethics related to this instance of "re-gifting." (Picture book. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 March #1

In Pett's wordless, somber story, a curly-headed boy's cherished toy airplane lands on the roof; to retrieve it, he plants a tree next to the shed and waits decades until it grows sturdy enough for him to climb. Time-lapse drawings show the boy standing by the tree, growing older until he becomes an overalls-wearing elderly man. He grabs the airplane with delight, then, sheepishly, gives it to the next child he sees. Pett (The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes) is a polished visual storyteller. Narrow panels denote quickly unfolding action as the boy tries getting his plane down with a ladder, pogo stick, and hose (rust red is the brightest color in his gray-brown palette). Wider panels convey discouragement and longer intervals as the boy sits under a maple tree, catches a falling maple key, then plants it. Despite child-friendly elements in the story, this is really a tale for adults about the passage of time and the unchanging nature of desire. Literal-minded readers are likely to ask why the boy didn't just fetch a grownup with a longer ladder. All ages. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 April

PreS--This beautifully designed, beautifully illustrated picture book uses muted beiges and grays for pages resembling brown wrapping paper and spare ink drawings in brown and dark red to tell a wordless story. A boy opens a wrapped package (presumably left for him by the man whose legs are seen walking off the opposite page), and he finds a toy airplane. He takes it outside and flies it, but the plane unfortunately lands on a roof. After various fruitless attempts with a ladder, lasso, baseball, and water hose to retrieve it, the child sits down to think things over, and a seed falls from a tree. He has an idea; he plants the seed and watches it grow to be a tree, as he grows older, too. When he is an old man, he finds the tree has grown enough that he can climb it and reach the roof where the airplane is still waiting. But when he tries to fly it, his arm is no longer strong enough, and the last spread shows a little girl holding a gift-wrapped box as the old man exits on the opposite page. Somewhat reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, this quiet book will captivate youngsters with its gentle charm.--Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

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