Extraordinary and wonderful.




What was essential about one golden-haired boy in love with flying becomes visible in Sís’ richly visual biographical portrait of French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Sís covers the basics: Saint-Exupéry briefly studied architecture, then was a pioneer air mail pilot and began to publish his stories. Assigned to the mail station at Cape Juby in the Spanish Sahara, “he loved the solitude and being under millions of stars.” He spent two of the war years exiled in New York and finally returned to fly for France. Sís’ work invites readers to take time, to attend to the narrative in both the straightforward text and the nuanced, complex pictures. Antoine’s pilot friend Guillaumet advises him “to follow the face of the landscape”: A small plane flies over faces in the dunes (perhaps a nod to Saint-Exupéry’s Terres des Hommes). A desert fox greets one of Antoine’s several crashes, but instead of direct speculation about Saint-Exupéry’s inspiration for The Little Prince, Sís offers a multifaceted look at the author as adventurer and dreamer. Saint-Exupéry disappeared over the sea near Corsica in 1944: In Sís’ poignant illustration, the lines of the Lockheed P-38 become the wings and bicycle of a flying machine, a little like one Antoine made as a child.

Extraordinary and wonderful. (Picture book/biography. 6-12)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-38069-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.


This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age...


Beverly Cleary has written all kinds of books (the most successful ones about the irrepressible Henry Huggins) but this is her first fantasy.

Actually it's plain clothes fantasy grounded in the everyday—except for the original conceit of a mouse who can talk and ride a motorcycle. A toy motorcycle, which belongs to Keith, a youngster, who comes to the hotel where Ralph lives with his family; Ralph and Keith become friends, Keith gives him a peanut butter sandwich, but finally Ralph loses the motorcycle—it goes out with the dirty linen. Both feel dreadfully; it was their favorite toy; but after Keith gets sick, and Ralph manages to find an aspirin for him in a nearby room, and the motorcycle is returned, it is left with Ralph....

The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age group. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 1965

ISBN: 0380709244

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1965

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