Saturday, 25 March 2017

Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane by Caroline Baxter

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with 'lean, mean flying machine' Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this
action-packed rhyming story celebrates 'Girl Power' and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

Title: Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane

Author: Caroline Baxter

Illustrator: Izabela Ciesinska

Release Date: 8th March 2017

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Big Sunshine Books

Format: Paperback Goodreads Link: 

Amazon Link:


This book is a lovely colourful illustrated one, which highlights the importance that it doesn't matter if you are a girl you can have a career that is traditionally male dominated.

This has rhyme in that children love to identify as well as an issue with Mitch another plane, with the them having to work together Pilot Jane solves an issue. (Very hard not to drop spoilers!)

Although this was a very enjoyable book my one negative and it has come from a teaching professional is that this book is great for the girls but it may not interest boys a lot, which I feel is an important aspect for picture books. It is important that books try to capture their interests to try and hook them into reading and I am not sure this book does that for boys. Like I said this is just a educational observation.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Post:

My Favourite Picture Books: Caroline Baxter

I LOVE picture books. The look of them, the sound of them, the feel of them. In just a few minutes you can enjoy a good story, complemented by often beautiful illustrations. They can be funny, silly, outrageous, moving, laugh-out loud, exciting, inspiring . . . and magical. Perhaps most importantly, since most are read by parents to their children, they offer an opportunity at the end of a busy day to cuddle up and have some precious family time together (though I happily read them on my own too).

So in the days after the publication of my own second picture book, Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, I thought I’d write about some of the many picture books that have inspired me along the way. It was a tricky ask (after all, I could only pick 10!) but here goes . . .

1. The Snail and the Whale: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Not surprisingly, I’m a big fan of Julia Donaldson and her amazing collection of picture books. But The Snail and the Whale is my all-time favourite for two reasons. Firstly, I think it’s a brilliant way of helping children to develop an understanding that there’s a big wide world out there to explore and enjoy. Rather than sticking “tight to the smooth black rock” the intrepid snail hitches a lift around the world and, together, the snail and the whale see “towering icebergs and far-off lands, fiery mountains and golden sands”, all brought to life by Axel Scheffler’s gorgeous illustrations. Secondly, the book is a total pleasure to read aloud. I love the alliteration, the catchy rhyme and the evocative descriptions. Even my children, aged five and three, know big chunks of it by heart (it’s been read quite a few times in our house!). Oh, and for some reason, they also love the sharks…

2. Baby Brains: Simon James

From our first reading of Baby Brains, it was an instant hit. The story, like its star, is super-clever and follows the early days of Baby Brains as he reads the morning paper, helps mend the car, visits the local school and helps out with a space mission! Even preschoolers can understand that these activities are ridiculous for a tiny baby to do and we regularly laugh out loud at the fantastic illustrations, particularly on the page where he begins working at the local hospital! In a dig to ‘tiger mums’ and pushy dads everywhere, however, ultimately Baby Brains just decides he wants his mummy and to do “the things that most babies do”. This really is a classic – a story with a great concept, well-written and perfectly illustrated. It’s no surprise it won the Red House Children’s Book Award.

3. Oi Frog!: Kes Gray and Jim Field

Continuing the silly/ outrageous theme, Oi Frog! is another hilarious story guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face. The rhyme is genius and makes for

some really silly images – cows sitting on ploughs and lions sitting on irons being my personal favourites! The bright, vibrant colours also appeal to even the youngest of readers. Overall I think this is a stand-out book simply because it’s brilliant fun. And surely that’s what picture books are for.

4. Five Minutes’ Peace: Jill Murphy

We always enjoy the Large Family books and Five Minutes’ Peace is my personal favourite. It really captures perfectly family life with young children and the mess, chaos and hustle and bustle it brings. Mothers everywhere can relate to Mrs Large and young children love seeing parts of themselves and their activities reflected in the boisterous Large children. The best bit, for my own children, is when “the little one” jumps into the bath in such a hurry that he forgets to take off his pyjamas – a moment always greeted by snorts of laughter! Jill Murphy’s language is also so carefully chosen that just one or two words convey volumes. From the opening page “The children were having breakfast/ This was not a pleasant sight” to Mrs Large “plonking” on her bath hat and replying “weakly”, we understand exactly how she feels and how the morning will pan out. A great, feel-good book perfect for bedtime.

5. Dogger: Shirley Hughes

This was the first Shirley Hughes book I read and it’s a real joy. Although it’s much longer than many picture books these days, its length was never a problem – even when my children were very young. The story of Dave losing his favourite toy, Dogger, and the heartbreak he feels, is one that so many children (and parents) can relate to. Dave’s mum looks everywhere for his beloved Dogger – under the bed, behind the cupboard, underneath the stairs – but Dogger is nowhere to be found. By chance, however, the old toy is discovered again the following day at the School Fair and returned to Dave through an act of kindness on the part of his sister Bella. This is a lovely book to read aloud with a touching message about sibling love and amazingly detailed, beautiful illustrations that stand the test of time.

6. The Pirates Next Door: Jonny Duddle

For a while pirates were a big theme in our house, and I can’t think of better pirate books than those by Jonny Duddle. The rhymes are catchy and clever, the stories hugely entertaining and the illustrations bold, yet intricate. We all love reading about the adventures of the Jolley-Rogers and how they shake up “gloomy seaside town” Dull-on Sea with its stuffy, narrow-minded inhabitants. The characters are also brilliantly drawn, from eager Matilda and her anxious parents to “Mrs Bevan from eighty-seven” and the overworked clerk in the Town Hall. My daughter is also a big fan of the “urchin called Nugget” – though thankfully they don’t look or act alike!

7. Beegu: Alexis Deacon

We first got this book out of the library and it made my favourites list because it’s so different and memorable. Although a simple story with very few words, it’s an incredibly moving picture book. Beegu is a little alien who is lost on planet Earth, but no-one seems to want to help her. Only the young children at school try to befriend her; all the grown-ups cast her out. When she eventually returns to her mother, she tells her how “Earth creatures were mostly big and unfriendly, but there were some

small ones who seemed hopeful”. The character of Beegu draws you in immediately, with her long ears and sad face, and one, almost child-like, drawing somehow manages to convey the full range of human emotions. These days, in particular, perhaps we should pay even more heed to the book’s gentle message about acceptance and welcoming those who are different.

8. Bear’s Big Bottom: Steve Smallman and Emma Yarlett

How could you not love Bear’s Big Bottom? With its witty rhyme and brilliant illustrations, this is a book you could read repeatedly to children – and one which, mine at least, ask for repeatedly. Everyone joins in with the refrain ‘BEAR’S BIG BOTTOM’ and the bit where his bottom smashes all the presents makes us all giggle! We’ve read quite a few books by Steve Smallman recently and they are always a total treat.

9. The Bear and the Piano: David Litchfield

From a bear with a big bottom to a bear with a big gift – the gift of music. One of the main reasons I chose this book about the power of friendship was because of its gorgeous artwork. Some of the scenes David Litchfield creates are visually stunning, from the forest scenes awash with morning light to the “sold-out concerts in giant theatres”. The story, which is about belonging and unconditional love, is also perfect for young children. At the end the bear “realised that no matter where he went, or what he did, (his friends) would always be there, watching from afar”. This is a beautiful book in every sense of the word – a true ‘picture book’.

10. Zog: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

My final choice is another book by Julia Donaldson: Zog, the much-loved tale of a very enthusiastic dragon. The story of his antics at Dragon School is highly entertaining and the rhyme skips along at the usual fast pace, but for me the true star here is Princess Pearl. When I first read the book, I found it hugely refreshing to see a female character stand up for herself and talk about choosing a career, rather than prancing around the palace “in a silly frilly dress”! Even better, she will be the one to train up the brave knight Gadabout the Great. It’s fair to say that the fabulous, capable Pearl was one inspiration for my own advocate of girl power, Pilot Jane. And, at the end, happily both characters fly off into the sunset, destined for even greater things.

So these are my ten favourite picture books. I hope you enjoy them and can only apologise for the many other amazing ones I’ve left out.

Next time I’d have to make it my top 20 . . .

Many thanks for hosting me on Sam’s Book Corner!

Caroline Baxter lives in Oxford with her husband and two young children. From an early age she always had her nose in a book – and now does so for a living! Caroline grew up in South Wales and, after graduating with a BA in English Literature from Cardiff University, held a variety of management roles at UK universities including, most recently, at the University of Oxford. The Bear Cub Bakers, her first book, was written while on maternity leave with her daughter. Her second book,Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, was published recently on International Women’s Day (8 March 2017). Caroline loves travelling, yoga, baking (and eating) cake, dogs, days out and snuggling up with a good story.

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