Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Let's Fly Away! Air Show! by Treat Williams and Robert Neubecker

Ellie was excited. She was flying to the air show.

Her dad and his friend Carl were pilots. Her brother Gil was going, too, but he was just a know-it-all!

Dad and Carl ran through he take-off checklist: "Fuel full?" "Check." "Directional gyro?" "Check." "Transponder?" "Check."

"Navaho 95 Charlie Lima. Taxi into position and hold."


The airstruck Ellie can hardly believe her luck. She's flying with her dad to the big air show. "Hey, Dad, can we do barrel rolls?" she asks hopefully. Of course not, dad says, pointing out that they have to stick to their flight plan altitude all the way. But when they arrive, Ellie can't believe the aeronautical delights spread before her.

Historical planes. Jet fighters! Experimental planes! Passenger jets! War Birds! Bi-planes! Ultra-lights! Flying boats!

Ellie is dazzled by the displays--overwhelmed to see World War II B-17s beside the Red Baron's Fokker and World War I tri-planes. Dad is impressed with Ellie's knowledge. "I DO have a computer, Pop!" she protests. But then the Blue Angels take to the air in their spectacular close formation drills, and Ellie thinks she's experienced the ultimate air show thrill, until...

Then Ellie saw a little red plane. It was the most beautiful stunt plane she had every seen.

"I'm Amanda, and this my Pitts Special," said the pilot. "You're coming with me! You can be my co-pilot."

Ellie climbs into the open rear cockpit, and Amanda takes her into the air--for barrel rolls, loops, and dives! "This is awesome!" is all the overwhelmed Ellie can manage to say.

In Treat Williams' brand-new Air Show! (Hyperion, 2010), his energetic and ebullient text captures the overwhelming excitement of the show for a young airplane enthusiast. Robert Neubecker's exuberant cartoon drawings take advantage of the many visual experiences of an air show, from the layout of the Navaho's cockpit dashboard in the endpapers to the soaring perspectives of the Blue Angels' drill, the four-page gatefold spread which shows the various planes at the show, to the final double-page diagram of Ellie's soaring stunts in Amanda's little Pitts Special. Neubecker, noted illustrator of such books as Wow! City! and Wow! America! specializes the use of perspective and wide-angle illustrations, and he closes this one with a knock-out spread of a nighttime takeoff as the tired but happy Ellie settles into the co-pilot's seat for the flight home. For already airstruck kids and those who don't yet know that they are , Air Show! is a great take-off point.

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