Friday, March 14, 2014

PPBF: Zephyr Takes Flight

TitleZephyr Takes Flight
Author/Illustrator: Steve Light
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2012
Genre/Audience: fiction/Ages 4-8
Themes: airplanes, imagination

Opening: "Zephyr loved airplanes. She drew pictures of them, made them out of paper, and built them out of junk. Mostly, she played with them. One day, she hoped to fly one of her own."

Synopsis: (from Booklist)

Zephyr is well named: the little wisp of a girl is crazy about airplanes and flying. One day, after being sent to her room for a “triple loop-de-loop” crash-landing off the couch, she discovers a secret door behind her dresser that leads to “the most wondrous place Zephyr has ever seen.” It looks like an airplane hanger, filled with vintage flying machines and maps. What’s an adventure seeker to do? Zephyr climbs aboard the FS Bessie, flips a switch, and is off. After a malfunction and a bumpy landing, our ponytailed, bubble gum–chewing gal ends up in a strange land where pigs actually do fly. Zephyr helps Rumbus, the only pig without wings, before returning to her family—just in time for pancakes. Light’s (The Christmas Giant, 2010) fountain pen, pastel, and colored pencil sepia-toned illustrations exude old-fashioned charm, and swirling lines in the air emphasize Zephyr’s joy. Panels throughout nicely propel the action, while full-page spreads offer a wider view of Zephyr’s landscapes. A flight of fancy sure to appeal to the imagination. Preschool-Grade 2. --Ann Kelley

Why I Love This Book

Zephyr is spunky and imaginative, challenging the assumption that only boys are interested in airplanes. The story arc closely follows Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak): child pushes the limits and is sent to his/her room; child journeys to an unusual world; child decides to return to his/her family. The illustrations are gorgeous, full of whimsy and energy. And what's not to like in a book that "logically" plays on the expression "when pigs fly"?


Field Trip: If you are local, or are an avid airplane fan looking for a vacation idea, head to the Udvar-Hazy Center. Located adjacent to Dulles International Airport, this Smithsonian facility sports two giant hangers with planes and space vehicles galore, including an Air France Concorde and the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Free paper airplane designs

Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machines

The Flying Pig Bookstore: a shout-out to my favorite indie children's bookshop! (Well worth another field trip… to Vermont!)

Craving more Perfect Picture Books? Author Susanna Leonard Hill compiles weekly book reviews from bloggers at Visit Fridays or click the Perfect Picture Books tab at her website for a subject listing.


  1. What a great find. I was one of those girls who dreamed of flying. I built planes out of tree trunks and planks. I really believed they'd fly. This book would have thrilled me as a child. Great choice!

  2. Wow, wow, wow! I can't wait to read this. And thanks for the fun activities. 'Wish I could get to Vermont.

  3. Flying makes me queasy. I still do it--but not my favorite activity! The paper airplanes are more my speed. :)

  4. Great pick. Love Steve's style.

  5. I have become a HUGE fan of Steve's ever since I interviewed him. Love his passion for fountain pens, too. In fact, I hope he is going to make it to my birthday drinks gathering tonight. Thanks for the lovely review. Great girl's name!

  6. this is a fun book! great review and activities.

  7. Oh, this looks delightful, Laura! I love the whole concept! Thanks so much for adding this one to our list :)

  8. I have read this and it's really fun. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. Oh what fun! I've been researching early flight, and have been reading a lot about zephyrs and dirigibles. I sure hope my library has this one. I can't believe I've never heard of it.

  10. I love stories about spunky girls!! Thanks for sharing this one!

  11. I like when the stereo typical girl is the hereo and not so stereo typical. . Thanks for sharing. :)