The Sky of Now

Chaim Potok, Author, Tony Auth, Illustrator Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $17 (1p) ISBN 978-0-679-86021-1
Potok has undisputed skills as a novelist and Auth has won a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartoons but, here as in their Tree of Here, neither man's talents translate clearly to children's books. Brian wants to be a pilot like his Uncle Conor but he's scared of heights. On his 10th birthday, Uncle Conor surprises him with a ride in a glider. To help himself through his premier flight, Brian imagines that his two favorite toys-a cautious, tightrope-balancing clown and a brave WWII flyer, both of them able to talk to Brian-share the cockpit with him. He finally relaxes when he spots an eagle flying alongside the craft: ``He felt the sky opening itself to him, felt himself inside the blueness all around him. He thought only of the sky and of the eagle, of this moment, this very special moment of flying. He thought only of now....'' The overwrought prose and the awkwardness of the talking toys as plot devices are symptomatic of the story's lifelessness. Auth tries to inject some humor; his cartoon Statue of Liberty, for instance, lays her torch across her folded arm and waves as the glider slides past. For the most part, however, the pictures are bland, unable to transcend the ponderously solemn text. Ages 5-9. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Hardcover - 978-0-679-96021-8
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