Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747

by Chris Gall (Author) Chris Gall (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

For the 50th anniversary of the Boeing 747's first commercial flight, a picture book about the development of the iconic passenger plane and how it changed the history of air travel.

In 1968, the biggest passenger jet the world had ever seen premiered in Everett, Washington. The giant plane was called the Boeing 747, but reporters named it "the Jumbo jet."

There was only one problem. It couldn't fly. Yet.

Jumbo details the story of the world's first wide body passenger jet, which could hold more people than any other plane at the time and played a pivotal role in allowing middle class families to afford overseas travel. Author and illustrator Chris Gall, himself a licensed pilot, shows how an innovative design, hard work by countless people, and ground-breaking engineering put the Jumbo jet in the air.

On January 22, 1970, the Boeing 747 made its first transatlantic flight, taking passengers from New York to Paris in seven hours.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
In a properly lap- and eye-filling format (it has a 2-foot wingspan), a soaring tribute to the 'Queen of the Skies.' [...] A blast from the past, sure to transport fans of all things big and loud. 


Starred Review
This handsome volume delivers a good deal of information about the world's first jumbo jet, the Boeing 747... An intriguing book for any kid who is passionate (or even a little curious) about planes. 

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3—Gall marks the 50th anniversary of the Boeing 747 with a wonderfully illustrated picture book about the plane's history and an overview of aerodynamics. The text explains the huge undertaking involved in building the Boeing 747, aka the "Jumbo Jet," and how it allowed more people to fly less expensively. The aerodynamics of how to fly the large plane are examined, and the uniqueness of the plane's construction is detailed. Throughout the book, a young girl explains the concepts with everyday examples, such as how holding your hand out of a car window creates drag. Overall, the book is well organized and easy to follow. Gall provides enough information to excite younger readers without overwhelming them. His dynamic illustrations will have children marveling for hours at the plane's awe-inspiring details. VERDICT This informative picture book is a fantastic purchase for all libraries and is destined to be loved by young airplane enthusiasts.—Katherine Rao, Palos Verdes Lib. Dist., CA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Between its first flight in 1970 and its last in 2018, the Boeing 747 "transported the equivalent of 78 percent of the world's population." It's an incredible statistic, but a fraught legacy given the realities of climate change. Gall avoids any discussion of the 747's ecological consequences, centering instead the engineering challenge Boeing faced in designing the world's largest passenger plane, then building it in just 28 months per the demands of Pan American Airlines. Incisive explanations of concepts such as gravity, lift, drag, and thrust; turbojets; the design process; and plane construction ("over 4.5 million pieces in a 747!") shine alongside lucid, highly detailed realistic color illustrations and schematics peppered with plane parts, cross-sections, and relatable images, such as a girl braking a bike to depict hydraulics. Gall's attention to detail dazzles, but the institutional-feeling narrative never quite soars. Includes "Fun Facts," a glossary, and an author's note about building a plane. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Go for the Moon: A Rocket, A Boy, and the First Moon Landing

Gall uses approachable analogies to illuminate STEAM concepts, and an author's note recalls Gall's experience watching the moon landing as a child, further personalizing this edifying and heartfelt story. - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Gall balances densely explanatory pages with wide-angle scenes filled with tension and drama. - The New York Times

The final double-page spread is a stunning, vertiginous view of the boy's next generation of homemade rockets lifting off. A solid addition to the growing collection of fine volumes about Apollo 11. - Kirkus

[Gall's] enthusiasm for rocketry shines brightly in loving attention to hardware detail in the art, with human participants rendered as merely necessary adjuncts. - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Recommended for science classes and school and public library collections. - School Library Journal

The large trim size places the focus on the richly colored illustrations, which chart and diagram each phase of the journey and return. - Booklist

Chris Gall
Chris Gall has been a certified diver for more than 20 years. He once encountered a manta ray bigger than a car, but has only seen one shark, and it happened to be asleep in an undersea cave. He is the award-winning author and illustrator of such books as Dinotrux, Substitute Creacher, Dog vs. Cat, and many others. His nonfiction books include Go For the Moon, Jumbo, and Big Rig Rescue. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date
August 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JNF051010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Technology | Aeronautics, Astronautics & Space Science
JNF051120 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Technology | How Things Work/Are Made
JNF057010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Transportation | Aviation
Library of Congress categories
Air travel
Boeing 747 (Jet transports)
Boeing Company

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