Kid's Stuff -- Books About Airplanes
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The first time we took our kid on an airplane, I went on a little kick, finding air travel books at the library... Turns out there are quite a few of them! Know of any good ones I missed...?




"Going By Plane"
Written by Susan Ashley
Illustrated by Susan Ashley
(Weekly Reader, 2003)

(-)


"We're Going On An Airplane!"
Written by Steve Augarde
Illustrated by Steve Augarde
(Handprint, 2003)

(-)


"Planes"
Written by Byron Barton
Illustrated by Byron Barton
(Harper Festival, 1986)

As plain and direct a book about air travel as you could imagine, drawn and written with blocky, Maisy-like simplicity, and aimed at 1-3 year-olds. Doesn't have much nuance or depth, but it's just right for toddlers headed for the wild blue yonder. (B)


"Going On An Airplane"
Written by Anne Civardi & Michelle Bates
Illustrated by Stephen Cartwright
(Heinemann, 1994)

(-)


"Home To Me, Home To You"
Written by Jennifer A. Ericsson
Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
(Little, Brown & Company, 2004)

Mom is coming back from a long business trip; back home, the stay-at-home dad and three children eagerly await her return. Contentwise, this book is nice for modern families, and it also models some good behavior (kids cleaning up after themselves, etc.) Its structure is more troublesome, though, flipping between the daughter's point of view and the mother's, as each goes through their day, anticipating their eventual reunion. I'm not a big fan of split-screen, dual narrative books -- it's hard for a reader to make them work, and I'd prefer to use my "explaining mojo" on the story itself, not the way the story is being told. Still, the emotional message rings true, and for families that are in similar situations, this book may seem like a revelation. Shows the mom traveling on airplanes and going through an airport, so it may be interesting from that standpoint as well. Worth checking out. (B-)


"First Flight"
Written by David McPhail
Drawn by David McPhail
(Little, Brown & Company, 1987)

A nice, though somewhat unsatisfying, book about airplane travel... A young boy goes on his first airplane ride, accompanied by his teddy bear. The book is a fairly step-by-step look at flying... buying your ticket, boarding the plane, sitting, reading, landing, etc. what didn't work for me, though, was this book's fantastical element, which was that the boy's small teddy bear goes through the x-ray machine and later appears as a giant, full-size bear who accompanies the biy through the rest of his flight (pulling a "Calvin & Hobbes" at the end, and appearing teddy-sized again when grandma picks the boy up at the other end of the flight...) This is all very well and fine, except that the text never acknowledges the bear's presence, even by saying, "My bear and I get on the plane..." Thus, all the bear's in-flight antics (not being able to fit into the seatbelt, etc.) seem disconnected to -- and in competition with -- the main narrative, which is kind of flat to begin with. There aren't that many book out there on this topic, so this may be worth it just as a "message book," but in relation to the rest of McPhail's ouvre, it's a lesser work. (C+)


"Miss Mouse Takes Off"
Written by Jan Ormerod
Illustrated by Jan Ormerod
(Harper Collins, 2001)

A stoic stuffed animal named Miss Mouse and her mop-headed little girl fly on a plane together... The mousie has a few close calls, but mostly they have a fun time together. Nice book to help prepare a small child for plane travel. (B)


"Going On An Airplane"
Written by Melinda Beth Radabaugh
Illustrated by Melinda Beth Radabaugh
(Heinemann, 2004)

(-)


"Viajo En Avion"
Written by Melinda Beth Radabaugh
Illustrated by Melinda Beth Radabaugh
(Heinemann, 2004)

(-)


"Planes"
Written by Anne Rockwell
Illustrated by Anne Rockwell
(Puffin/Unicorn, 1985)

This simple, cartoony introduction to the idea of airplane travel features small, Richard Scarry-ish bunnies riding in all sorts of aircraft. Although the text isn't particularly artful, it is effective at conveying the basic idea of airplanes and what they do. We used this as a primer for our child when we went on our first airplane ride, and it was one of the best-received books on the subject. Recommended. (B-)


"I Fly"
Written by Anne Rockwell
Illustrated by Annette Cable
(Crown, 1997)

Author Anne Rockwell returns to the theme of air travel, this time with a central character narrating their own experience from gate to gate. A young boy (perhaps 6-10 years old?) rides alone, traveling to see his relatives in a nearby town. The text is somewhat dense and gets a little flowery and poetic when describing the world below, etc., but it does clearly describe the many steps of airplane travel. (In-flight meals and movies are left out of the story, but since this book was originally published, the airlines seem to have stopped offering them, anyway, so no big deal. Why don't any of these books mention keeping yourself hydrated, though? Oh, well.) This is a good book... a little clunky, but it does the trick, and also attempts to evoke a real sense of wonder.
(B-)


"Mister Rogers First Experiences: Going On An Airplane"
Written by Fred Rogers
Photographs by Jim Judkis
(G. P. Putnam, 1989)

Mister Rogers introduces us to airplane travel, as seen through the eyes of two small children, one traveling with her parents and the other flying alone. The tone of the text is about what you'd expect -- kind, patient, a little dull -- and while informative, it isn't very engaging or evocative. Also, I'm not a big fan of photographs in kid's books; they seem kind of impersonal and also quickly become dated. Of the handful of books I used to prep my girl for her first airplane ride, this one met with the least positive response. (C)


"My Friend Rabbit"
Written by Eric Rohman
Illustrated by Eric Rohman
(Roaring Brook Press, 2002)

A small mouse narrates, telling of his friend, Rabbit, who is a bit of a loose cannon, After Rabbit gives Mouse a model plane to fly in, the plane gets stuck in a tree and Rabbit comes up with a hare-brained scheme to get it back down. When that plan comes crashing down around them, it's up to Mouse to save Rabbit from his own good intentions. Like Rabbit, this book is full of enthusiasm and bounding energy, and despite immense personal charm, it's also a bit chaotic. There are three separate narrative modes -- one, the mouse's central narration, which gives way to silent panels where parents will have to fill in the blanks and explain the story ("Oh, look -- now Rabbit's got an elephant!") and finally, there are little dialogue captions as Rabbit and Mouse talk to each other on the book's last pages. The need to flip back and forth between points of view and narrative voices may make this book a little awkward, until you come up with your own way of reading it... But the bright, vibrant art, and the engaging, silly story will ensure that you will have to figure out how to read it, because you'll get a lot of requests to read it "again!!" (B)




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