Billy's First Flight Lesson
Set in the 1930s, this nostalgic story stars a boy who is obsessed with planes and flying. (In a postscript, Barber profiles the real-life Billy—William A. Barber, her late husband—who first soloed at age 11 and went on to be a commercial airline captain and competitive aerobatic pilot.) At breakfast, Billy "made runways in his oatmeal and flew his spoon around his bowl." Every day after school, he rides his bike to the airport to watch planes take off and land. When he asks a pilot if he needs "some first class help," the man proposes a trade: "I will pay for your time in flight lessons." On the day of his first lesson, Billy bids a dramatic farewell to his mother ("Today I leave a boy and come back a pilot!"). Large, brightly colored type conveys the boy's enthusiasm, as when he takes off with the pilot and grabs the control stick: "I'm flying! I'm really flying!" More successful than Terentiak's wooden characters are her renditions of electric-hued period airplanes, with each model labeled, pictured against dappled aqua skies. Ages 4–up.