Mr. Planemaker’s Flying Machine

Written by Shelagh Watkins

Mr.Planemaker'spic

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. While inside the computer, the children discover their father has left them a mission to follow his “trail of light.”

Here is the third part of the story in which the reader is taken on a space flight on their father’s original model plane kit which the CPU staff has put together for them. They train there as astronauts, but their space flight will be controlled by Astrow Naught and Mission OnControl. The children learn a lot about the space station while they whiz pass all the planets and observe comet behavior. There are lots of surprises on the journey leaving in doubt their ability to find their father’s trail and make a successful return journey home before their mother notices that they are missing.

This book is a strange mixture of elements, coming of age, bullying, grief issues, computer knowledge, metaphysics and realism. I can’t explain why, but ultimately it works. The author successfully grips the reader into being a willing captive to the personalities of the characters and the strange twists and turns of the story line. Critics might say that it is rambling; yet valid issues are addressed and a great deal of information is relayed. Tweens and teens interested in any of these issues will find it to be a satisfying read. The quirkiness of the novel kept me glued to it because I could not figure out what would happen next. My bottom line is this book is really different; give it a look.

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