cover image The Boy and the Airplane

The Boy and the Airplane

Mark Pett. Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5123-0

In Pett’s wordless, somber story, a curly-headed boy’s cherished toy airplane lands on the roof; to retrieve it, he plants a tree next to the shed and waits decades until it grows sturdy enough for him to climb. Time-lapse drawings show the boy standing by the tree, growing older until he becomes an overalls-wearing elderly man. He grabs the airplane with delight, then, sheepishly, gives it to the next child he sees. Pett (The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes) is a polished visual storyteller. Narrow panels denote quickly unfolding action as the boy tries getting his plane down with a ladder, pogo stick, and hose (rust red is the brightest color in his gray-brown palette). Wider panels convey discouragement and longer intervals as the boy sits under a maple tree, catches a falling maple key, then plants it. Despite child-friendly elements in the story, this is really a tale for adults about the passage of time and the unchanging nature of desire. Literal-minded readers are likely to ask why the boy didn’t just fetch a grownup with a longer ladder. All ages. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Apr.)