Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Booked Flight

You can't help but wonder if in their wildest dreams, Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright had any notion of the connections airplanes would create on the grand scale we have today.  What would they think of the technological advancements in plane design and structure or the views from and controls within the cockpit?  How would they feel if they could pilot one of the ten largest passenger aircraft or be a first-class traveler in one of these immense planes?

If they were to step inside one of the large international terminals, what would be the first thing they would say or think?  The sense of urgency and energy is highly prevalent as thousands of people pass through these facilities every single day.  The Airport Book (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, May 10, 2016) written and illustrated by Lisa Brown follows a family of four as they journey to visit the father's parents.

Don't forget Monkey!
Of course I won't forget Monkey!
Where's my hat?

Each family member is focusing on the chief thing on their minds in this initial conversational exchange as they pack prior to leaving for the airport.  They continue to talk as the taxi arrives.  Narrative text by an unseen narrator (the son?) adds to the unfolding story.

At the terminal we are privy to observations about the people and their baggage as other voices appear in separate dialogues.  These continue as rows of people proceed through an assortment of lines.  At the same time the little girl begins to call out for Monkey.  Her crying increases as they pass through the security machines.  She settles some as they proceed past all the shops and restaurants, making their way to the gates.

Each portion of the process prior to and during boarding the plane inside the terminal and outside on the tarmac is revealed.  As passengers settle into their seats, the daughter begins to yell for her monkey as she looks out a window.  She simply can't stop even when the flight attendant begins her routine speech about safety.

There is rarely a quiet moment as individuals go about their personal activities during the flight.  The plane moves through the clouds finally landing at its destination.  Amid the hustle and bustle of arrival and baggage claims, a final surprise circles into view.  Greetings galore are exchanged.

With every reading my admiration for the writing, the smooth blend of text and conversation, by Lisa Brown increases.  The narrator explains every step of the journey from their home, to the airport, at the terminal, during the flight, and after the arrival.  It's completely true to life no matter what age you are.  The dialogue between the family members and the other travelers adds even more realism to the story.  Readers will be silently smiling or laughing out loud at the little girl's sightings of Monkey which only she can see.  Here is another sample combination of text and conversations.

When you reach your gate, you wait.
And wait and wait and wait.

I see Monkey! (daughter)
Don't be silly. (her brother)
I hope you have the boarding passes. (older woman to her husband, a continuation of constant reminders)
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. (business woman on her phone, constantly)

Outside people are getting the plane ready.
They are checking that everything is working and safe and clean and ready to fly.

What a joy to remove the dust jacket from this title and see what my newest group of kindergarten students and I call a surprise!  From left to right, flap edge to flap edge, on the dust jacket, Lisa Brown gives us an up-close-and-personal view of the windows looking out at the tarmac.  She cleverly gives us a peek at Monkey and places her name on the outside of a suitcase.  The undercurrent of joy throughout this book begins right here.  On the book case Brown has taken images from the book, enlarged them and put them on a background of white.  It's a mix of arriving and leaving the airport.

The opening and closing endpapers are visual storytelling depicting first the overcast day with rain falling as we look inside the homes in the city and second as we enjoy a day at the beach with the family.  With a page turn at the beginning the title, verso and first pages continue this tale with dialogue and text woven into the images.  Rendered in India ink and watercolor on paper all the illustrations span two pages.

With that being said Lisa Brown broadens the dimension of a single narrative by combining multiple stories under the umbrella of the family's story.  You HAVE to stop at each picture looking at all the tiny details, marveling at her use of color to focus on the people.  Sometimes she will bring us close to a moment or step back allowing us to see the people and the luggage/packages moving along the belt or the passengers seated on the plane and the checked items underneath the inside of the plane.  This adds a new humorous element to the entire book.  (Careful readers will note the sign held by a limo driver at the baggage claim.)

One of my favorite illustrations of many is when the family is in line at the counter.  A variety of people of all ages are behind them.  As the assistant asks for their I. D. s the little girl shouts out for her monkey several times.  The mom turns to the dad asking if he forgot to pack Monkey.  What the parents can't see is the tail of Monkey sticking out from the suitcase the little girl packed.  This is one of those pictures where Lisa Brown brings us closely into the scene.  You can't help but smile.

The Airport Book written and illustrated by Lisa Brown is a charming and humorous look at travel, planes, airports and the terminals within those airports.  We get to explore every aspect through the eyes of a younger narrator and the many conversations.  This is a standout title.  Make sure to have it on your professional and personal shelves.

To discover more about Lisa Brown please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  If you go to the publisher's website you can view some interior pages.  Lisa Brown visits Miss Marple's Musings.  For a visual extravaganza visit author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast showcasing this title.  Lisa Brown is a guest at All The Wonders, Episode 265 with teacher librarian Matthew Winner.  At Scholastic's Ambassador for School Libraries, John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read.this title is mentioned and shown in a Saturday video as he visits a Little Free Library.

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