From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-The narrator reminisces about his father's dream to make a flying machine. The man works ceaselessly on the project without success, stopping to play with his son only when the longing to "claim the sky" abates periodically. That longing is silenced forever, however, when the father goes off to war and never returns. Years pass, and the son "[takes] up the old wings" left by his father and does succeed, soaring into the "vast blue sky" where he feels his father's presence. Eventually, he shares his dream with his own son. The digitally rendered illustrations offer great variety as they enrich the brief text. There are single pages and spreads, framed half sheets, and snapshotlike vignettes. The lacy filigree and feathers of the father's flying machine seem as elusive as his dream. The family's home stands high on a cliff overlooking the immense sea, and varying shades of blue throughout echo father's and son's longing for the sky. There are sepia tones as well and grays that eventually morph almost to black as father sets off to war. One striking illustration depicts the winged, laurel-wreathed father atop a column ready to soar much like Daedalus of old, a Greek temple in the background. This evocative story will surely elicit discussions about having dreams and the persistence necessary to accomplish difficult goals.-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Baker-Smith crafts a moving tale of a father whose dream of flying is left unfulfilled when he is called away to war but that passes along to his son, who finally manages to soar. His figures, hovering in that magical middle ground between fantasy and realism, possess idiosyncratic stylistic flourishes that make for instant appeal. Realistically textured and timeless clothing grounds his lushly fantastical environments, giving his images an evocative and even haunting quality. Many children will be visually captivated and want to pass their fingers again and again over the intricate surfaces of the mechanical wings the father invents. Although the story, told with a stilted, dew-eyed earnestness, reaches for a profound metaphor that may tug at the heartstrings of some adult readers, it will likely leave a young readership completely unmoved. As with Sarah L. Thomson and Rob Gonsalves’ Imagine a Night (2003), Imagine a Day (2005), and Imagine a Place (2008), this one must stand on the strength of its beautiful and resonant imagery. Grades 2-4. --Jesse Karp