Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

How to Build a Plane

Lacey, Saskia (Author)
Sodomka, Martin (Illustrator)
Quarto 2015. 64 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9781633220416 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 629.133
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

recurring patterns

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Eli is a mouse “with an elephant-sized imagination” and he and his friends, Phoebe the sparrow and Hank the frog—the “Scrap Pack”—are going to build an airplane. Although Phoebe doesn’t need another set of wings and Hank is afraid of heights, they join their ambitious friend. The frog and the bird rein in Eli’s more outlandish designs, like his plan for 23 engines, and start with a glider. They forage for scrap parts and carefully follow a blueprint. When the plane is built, they turn their attention to learning to fly: how to bank, climb and turn. All the while, Eli can’t help but fantasize about becoming “Eli Knievel, Stunt Pilot.” Their maiden flight has a rough landing, but the three would-be engineers learn from their mistakes and try again. The narrative concludes with a summary of “How to Build a Plane in 5 Steps,” breaking down the characters’ undertaking into major steps.

The animal characters, rendered in watercolour, are shown in various stages of construction, consideration and, finally, flight. Other images show air-current patterns, labelled schematics of sections of the frame and tracings of “Flips and Tricks.” The graph-paper background of each page suggests the design and drafting that are instrumental in Eli and his friends’ dream of flight. Other illustrations depict the paraphernalia of flight, such as a windsock, a map and flight instruments.

  •  

    Create a chart of aviation lingo. Highlight what you believe to be essential vocabulary for young pilots (e.g. fuselage, lift, cockpit). Lay the words out in an interesting format with the meaning alongside. Add colour and illustrations to make it engaging.

  •  

    The design of airplanes is inspired by the shape of birds. Do research on a student-friendly site to find other human inventions whose genesis is based on natural phenomena (sonar, Velcro, bullet trains, etc.).

  •  Create an instruction manual for the building and assembly of something that interests you. Remember to use ordinal numbers such as first, second, third.
  •  

    Create a paper airplane. Observe and discuss how it can fly.

  •  

    Brainstorm and list vocabulary that you know about planes. Add more words as you read.

  •  Draw a timeline of the airplane construction in the book. Discuss how the three friends cooperated to create the plane.
  •  

    Create an illustrated airplane glossary for a passenger and one for a student pilot. How will the two be different? Why?

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Science and Technology