Book Review: The Pilot and the Little Prince

pilot and the little prince

Review

Ages 6-8

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry by Peter Sís, is a biography and so much more. It tells the life of Antoine de Saint Exupéry, a little boy from an aristocratic French family who grows up fatherless and in the age where “flying machines” were just being invented. An imaginative little boy, who would “wake his family late at night to read them his poetry,” he eventually grew up to be an airmail pilot, flying dangerous  routes in Europe, Africa, and South America. He then flew reconnaissance missions in the French Air Force in World War II, after which he wrote some of his most famous literary works, including The Little Prince. Older and in deteriorating health he disappeared mysteriously in 1944 somewhere over the Mediterranean, while flying in a reconnaissance mission for the Free French Air Force in North Africa. The highlight of Sís’ biography, however, is not this amazing life, but the intricate, whimsical, breath-taking illustrations, which weave together rich landscapes, elaborate symbols, and informative bits of text. In the beginning of the book, little Antoine wonders where his deceased father went, and this sensitive philosophy and wonder permeate the book. Sís , interweaves humour, drama, and adventure, managing to strike a balance that will appeal to youngsters and parents alike, especially those interested in aviation.

Discussion

(Questions from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

1. Who or what influenced the life of Antoine de Sait-Exupéry?

2. How did Antoine de Sait-Exupéry work to achieve his goal? What sacrifices did he make?

3. What are some of the major accomplishments of Antoine de Sait-Exupéry?

4. What did Antoine de Sait-Exupéry contribute to aeronautic history?

5. In what ways did his writing career help him in other aspects of his life?

Activities

  • Write your own biography! Interview someone you know or research a famous person. Where were they born? What did they like to do when they were a kid? What is their family like? Who are their closest friends and what effect di their friends have on their life? How did they become first interested in their career? What are their greatest accomplishments? Failures? Once you have gathered information, write it out in full sentences chronologically (in order based on time). Bonus: like Sís, the author of this book, see if you can create a theme in your biography. For example, Sís always returns to Antoine’s expansive imagination and sense of wonder.
  • Make a timeline! Go back through the book and write down all of the dates of things that happen that pertain to Antoine. Then draw a long line on a piece of paper or poster board and add a little tick mark for each date and write a brief description. Bonus: add little icons or illustrations to each important event.
  • Try your hand at illustration! Sís’ Illustrations are both informative and interesting  from the tiny water ripple icon when Antoine’s friend dies in a plane crash to the dramatic war scene. Think of a dramatic moment in your life and illustrate it, paying attention even to tiny details. Bonus! Weave little lines of text throughout your illustration as Sís does in some of his illustrations in the book.

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