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Review of Flight 1-2-3

Flight 1-2-3
by Maria van Lieshout; 
illus. by the author
Preschool    Chronicle    40 pp.
4/13    978-1-4521-1662-4    $14.99

A counting book, an airport primer, an introduction to international signage, and a simple travel story — van Lieshout’s book packs a lot into its cleanly designed pages. Each spread features a numeral (from one to ten, then one hundred and up), a common pictogram, and one or two words interpreting the image: e.g., “Check-in desk”; “Security officers.” The crisp illustrations mimic travel signs’ unadorned graphics; the easy-to-decode typeface (Frutiger) is used “on airport signage all over the world.” As the pages progress, a boy and his parents arrive at “1 Airport”; check in at one of “3 Check-in desks”; dispose of prohibited items in one of “5 Trash cans”; and go through security. The scenes are plainly rendered in flat blocks of blue, yellow, black, and gray with touches of red, yet are detailed enough to hold readers’ attention. The family’s fellow travelers are featureless men and women (think airport bathroom signs); the main characters, while well differentiated, are far from embellished. After “10 Gates” and “100 Fastened seat belts,” the concepts get a bit more complex (distance, altitude), but van Lieshout brings us safely back to earth for “One happy meeting” at journey’s end. Make room in your carry-on for this book, perfect for pre- and in-flight entertainment for frequent and fledgling fliers alike.

From the July/August 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.



  1. My 4-yr old grandson and I enjoyed this book when it was released and then as noted in this review, I had it in the carry on bag for a recent trip he made with me from our home state of Arkansas to my current home in the beltway area…he loved remembering things from the book and looking for them at the airport and on the plane, having me point out things from the book he had never seen “in the real.” We are big fans of this book and when I left his house after returning him home I heard him telling his 2-year old brother all he had learned “in the real” that is in this book.

  2. This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to comment. It’s exactly how I envisioned the book being enjoyed most, but (luckily?) I didn’t have a chance to test it “in the real” with my almost-5-year-old and 3 3/4 year-old.

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