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Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine [Kindle Edition]

Shelagh Watkins
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dell and Emmelisa Planemaker are two ordinary children who lead uneventful lives in a small town in Lancashire until they discover a unique computer that takes them on an extraordinary journey. They are guided by a strange-looking man from a far-off distant planet who helps them to undergo a tough space mission: to follow their father's Trail of Light.

Review by John C. Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland:

Except for those with a phobia, flying has always been the stuff of dreams among all ages and, in this age of technological wonders, flying in space has become an integral part of this dreamland. As well as being the stuff of daring do, flying is full of mystery and laden with symbolic escapism, lifting us above the daily grind of adulthood and the growing fears of childhood, and human pettinesses, from gossip to bullying, which detracts all age groups from the joy of living.

In Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine, Shelagh Watkins takes us on a flight of fancy, both metaphorical and literal, through these dreams, fears and joys. We are taken rolling and looping in skies through clouds of bereavement, sibling antagonism, and human spitefulness, into a brighter but mysterious world of computer systems, then onward and upward into the heavens and among the planets themselves. Closure of the stormy sky issues, through which child heroes Emmelisa and Dell have struggled, is eventually approached in the final pursuit of Mr. Planemaker's physics-defying Trail of Light, during which we are constantly surprised.

While all this may sound a bit heavy for kids to read or for a bed-time story, and while it is thought provoking for adults, the yarn is a compulsive tale for kids, spun around daily routines and banalities mixed with fantasy elements and outrageous characters. The unashamedly corny names for the latter will bring a chuckle even to the sworn pun-hater like me. Who has not known a school brat like Mayja Troublemaker and someone with as little spark as her uncle Verry Boringman?

The escape route from these pains in the neck emerges gradually via a series of encounters, first at a strange house being worked on by Anne R Keytect, Bill Dare, Joy Nair and Dek Orator of Dream Homes Inc, then on to Whiz Kid Computer Maintenance in Virtual Realty. Mr. Wizard Kidd leads us further into Hardwareland where many of the workings of computer operating systems are revealed to us with greater insight than many a manual, though in this case the user interface smacks more of magic than of a keyboard.

In the CPU building things rapidly progress toward the (virtual) reality of the Planemaker's Flying Machine PH1. Then, at an ever increasing rate we head with Emmelisa for space itself, with the help of valet Sue Tassistant, coordinator Mish Oncontrol, and master pilot/instructor Astrow Naught. Thereafter, on a solar system tour, some of the strands of the story are tied up, in ways readers must find for themselves or I will spoil the climax.

So, in the end, what does it all mean? I am not sure that I know, or even that Shelagh Watkins does, though surely Cosmos Planemaker the magical family cat knows, if anyone does. What I do know is that this is a refreshing and unusual kids' story which I, as a hard-nosed scientist — albeit with magic as a hobby — had to read to the end, and that it will likewise enthrall children readers and bed-time story tellers alike. So buy it, lie back, and enjoy it with, or even without the kids.


Product Details

  • File Size: 2137 KB
  • Print Length: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Mandinam Press (January 13, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046REN9M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,884 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
(15)
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh August 13, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It began well, kind of like A Wrinkle in Time meets Tron. But towards the middle it just became a long winded lesson on how computers and the solar system works. And then it just ends. Very little closure or explanation. I think the author has potential, but the story still has a lot of work left. Pretty disappointed.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By KDD
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book really had two parts: about 1/3 with the children's father as the central character and then 2/3 focusing on the children.

The first part was enjoyable. The style reminded me of certain sweet books I read when I was young or sweet children's stories I saw on video with my kids when they were little. The story had enough little twists to keep my interest and seemed to provide something I look for in a good book: creativity.

The second part started out in the same vein, but once the children entered a different world, it began to ramble and drift and it was difficult to figure out the point of it all. The ending was abrupt and didn't really seem to be an ending at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars STRANGE BUT EFFECTIVE January 12, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I first started reading this book, I was unsure of what to expect. At the beginning of the story we meet what seems to be an ordinary family living in Pierton, England. Soon the reader learns that the father, Mr. Planemaker is seriously ill. The successful builder becomes depressed at his forced early retirement and seeks a hobby, which turns out to be making a model airplane. Some very strange things happen when he tries to teach himself how to research the internet to lay out his plans. He has mystifying dreams that involve colleagues seeking to entice him to enter a dark and grey house which then miraculously disappears. A kitten suddenly materializes in his car and strange talking characters like A. Leon Spaceman appear on the computer. Is he going crazy?

On the day his model airplane kit arrives, Mr. Planemaker passes away. Here I feared the story was going down hill. Part Two takes a whole new turn. Now the children assume center stage. Emmelisa and Dell Planemaker are now nine and twelve struggling to overcome difficulties with peers and adjusting to a life without their father. Emmelisa is being bullied at school because she refuses to join the gang led by Mayja Troublemaker. Her brother has moved to middle school and no longer can protect her. She keeps all this to herself and as a diversion decides to pass time by using her father’s old computer now hidden in the attic. To her surprise, she learns that her father has a whole set of plans and hidden secrets within it. Their mysterious family cat named Cosmos helps the children to unlock them. They discover its secrets by stepping into the computer itself and taking a real tour of the inside of a computer in nanosecond time.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful September 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This book had been on my Kindle for a long, long time because, as a reviewer as well as an author, my reading list is vast. However, I wish now that I'd read it sooner...absolutely wonderful! It's different in many ways, not least how it explores themes such as death and bullying and how children cope with such horrors, yet within the fabulous mix of reality and magic.

I know it was meant for children, nevertheless, I think adults could learn valuable lessons by reading this book. It is written very well, a fast-paced easy style, yet deceptively clever - and the author took pains not to 'talk down' to this age group...parts of which I found delightfully 'adult' yet keeping the target audience in mind, as if melding the two...something of which 'grown ups' should take note and listen to their young.

Not wanting to give spoilers, I will say that this story is unique in the telling, dealing with extremely important topics - a wonderful fantasy, filled with wondrous ideas.

Highly recommended for both young and older.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good book January 16, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not even half way into the book and there was a death... Sad, but I'm happy to see a cat or two. I also love how this book puts the life of a family into full detail. I give it a 4/5. It was missing something... This book was probably too short. I wish there was another book... Still a very good book. I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK.

QUICK WITHOUT LOOKING BACK,HOW MANY TIMES DID I SAY BOOK???!?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting April 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found that Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine was a delightfully entertaining book. The authoress of this book wrote with magnificent detail the process of the juvenile mind in its growing from childhood imagery to adult fantasy.
If you want a book that children of all ages will love, you have just found it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars exciting book i liked it February 6, 2013
By Cameron
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is about two kids that go into a computer.

They do lots of amazing stuff and learn about computers too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars October 10, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A charming tale. Well worth reading.
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More About the Author

Shelagh Watkins is writer, editor and publisher at Mandinam Press. Her first novel, Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine, was serialised on Preston FM community radio in 2009. The sequel, Mr. Planemaker's Diving Machine, was published in 2011. Shelagh's second novel, The Power of Persuasion, was published in 2008. The same year, she edited and published Forever Friends, an anthology of short stories and poems written by members of publishedauthors.org. A follow-up anthology, Forever Travels, was published in 2010. A third anthology, Forever Families, was published in 2012.

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