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Review of The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

sis_pilot and the little princeThe Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
by Peter Sís; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Foster/Farrar    48 pp.
5/14    978-0-374-38069-4    $18.99    g

On glorious blue endpapers, an airplane loops across a map of the world, its contrail made of words that seem to dissolve on the page. The pointillist style of the map’s outline suggests both stargazing and looking through a microscope. So Sís foreshadows the scope of this picture book biography, simultaneously grand and intimate, and its tone: subtle, playful, and mysterious. The narrative includes a history of airplanes and pilots, the beginnings of air mail, two world wars, scenes on four continents, and an extraordinary number of plane crashes, all augmenting the central story of Antoine, the golden-haired boy who never stopped exploring and adventuring, in the air and on the page. The main text, a fairly clear line through Saint-Exupéry’s life, is supplemented with myriad facts about his world, arranged in delicate circles around the edges of Sís’s signature illustrated medallions. Here you can find information on Saint-Exupéry’s family tree or the perfume inspired by his book Night Flight or pithy anecdotes about his writing life. Visually stunning, this impressive accumulation of words, pictures, and design takes you to The Little Prince (rev. 5/43), or back to it, with fresh understanding and admiration.

From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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