cover image Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind

Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind

Gary Ross, illus. by Matthew Myers. Candlewick, $17.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4920-3

Ross’s screenwriter background serves his debut well—this novella-in-verse boasts engaging characters, a sturdy plot, and the never-fail enchantment of flying. Bartholomew Biddle, age 10, discovers that strong winds allow him to turn his bedsheet into a parachute of sorts and fly to lands unknown. He idles away several weeks with fun-loving pirates, then stumbles into a dystopian world of regulated sameness (“They wore the same jackets./ They wore the same shoes./ They wore the same shirts/ in the same shades of blues”), where he meets Densmore, a boy who yearns to escape but dares not disobey the rules. Departing alone, Bartholomew lands in a deep canyon populated by generations of pilots who’ve been blown off-course (including a familiar-looking aviatrix named Amelia). Myers’s (Clink) full-color oil paintings draw inspiration from Wyeth and Pyle, sharing the same pure-hearted innocence and theatrical gesture. The pirate episode is the only unnecessary freight in an otherwise fast-moving story about the potential for greatness within every child. It’s not hard to imagine this on a big screen. Ages 6–10. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Nov.)