On This Airplane

by Lourdes Heuer (Author) Sara Palacios (Illustrator)

On This Airplane
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A story about coming to a new home and the diverse people you meet on an airplane. For fans of Last Stop on Market Street.

On this airplane . . .

Someone travels solo,

two travel as one,

three return

and four set out.

In this simple and moving book, a young family takes a plane to their new home. While onboard, they encounter all the people you meet on a plane: a bookworm, a businessperson, tourists, crying babies and daydreamers . . . all with their own stories and all heading somewhere special.

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Kirkus Reviews

A calm, informing pre-flight primer and an engaging book to pack to ensure a smooth trip.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1--A biracial family of four sells their home in preparation for the move to a faraway city. Their means of transportation is an airplane, where their journey intersects with the paths of many other travelers, each with a unique identity and purpose. Heuer gives us glimpses of these characters with well-crafted descriptive phrases ("a bookworm reads a textbook," "a sleepyhead awakens") amid evocative sensory language ("ice crystals bloom," "Drinks drip drop"). Palacios lovingly fills in the details of these thrown-together voyagers, the cool tones of the mixed-media illustrations summoning an unexpected depth of characterization from brief impressions throughout the flight. To be sure, the familiar irritants of air travel (noise, crowding, uncertainty) are all present. But a close observation of each passenger's story arc reveals a temporary community shot through with optimism and good cheer. A young boy flies on his own with the kind supervision of a friendly flight attendant. A man who initially jostles a woman's snacks by reclining his seat later offers her a stick of gum, and they leave the plane chatting happily together. A woman working busily on her laptop loses her sticky notes during turbulence, but a fellow passenger gathers them and hands them back in a neat pile. Certain abstract phrases ("someone in the service of work that is important," "two travel as one," "Someone lends an ear") may require explanation from an adult, but they should serve as valuable opportunities for observation and discussion. VERDICT This thoughtful, human portrait of air travel will make an unusual and resonant addition to all collections.--Jonah Dragan

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

A family of four embarks on an airplane journey from a seaside location; as they do, Heurer (Esme's Birthday Conga Line), employing playful, rhythmic text, muses about the people on board. The family's school-age child gazes into the cockpit, where a pilot is "living her dream" as passengers of varying ages, body types, skin tones, and groupings board. Each person has their own travel strategy--some read, some snooze, some schmooze--but a patch of turbulence ("Up, down. Up, down./ Drinks drip drop./ Tummies flip flop") briefly forges an affable community among the strangers, who lend "an earbud... an ear." Then the plane lands, and everyone heads off to their own destination--including the central family, which seems to have arrived at a new home. Digitally finished gouache and cut paper drawings by Palacios (I'll Go and Come Back) are filled with personality (readers should get a kick out of spotting how the characters behave and connect) and compositions that revel in the cabin's spaces, including the precious sliver of air between seats. Air travel may not always be glamorous, but the creators' affection for it is evident and affirming in this book that makes the journey the primary story. Ages 3-7. Author's agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator's agents: Minju Chang and Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary. (Oct.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Lourdes Heuer
Lourdes Heuer is the author of nearly a dozen children's books, including board books, picture books, and chapter books. She is also a poet, translator, and college professor. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Lourdes was born in Spain and immigrated to the United States as a child. She lives in South Florida with her husband, son, and many dogs. Lynnor Bontigao stapled her first illustrated story at the age of ten in the Philippines. In college, she joined a children's book illustrator group, where she fell in love with children's books. After emigrating to the US, she became a programmer analyst for a financial firm for 15 years. Lynnor is the author-illustrator of Sari-Sari Summers, her debut picture book, and is also the illustrator of The World's Best Class Plant, written by award-winning authors Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, and You Are Revolutionary by Cindy Wang Brandt. Lynnor is the winner of the 2020 SCBWI Tomie dePaola Professional Development Award, the 2020 Kweli/SCBWI Emerging Voice Award, and the 2021 Kweli Sing the Truth! Mentorship. She loves stories where family relationships, culture, and food are intertwined. Lynnor Bontigao lives in Roselle Park, New Jersey, with her family and one tiny dog.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Tundra Books (NY)
Publication date
October 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV039250 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
JUV041010 - Juvenile Fiction | Transportation | Aviation
JUV074000 - Juvenile Fiction | Diversity & Multicultural
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Emigration and immigration

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