Author/Illustrator: Gary Ross/Matthew Myers
Themes: Adventure, Poetry, Rhyming Language, Exquisite Illustrations, Imagination, Extraordinary Language
Published: 2012, 96 pages
'Sweet' book summary:
Reviewer: Melissa Y.
Gulliver's Travels meets Peter Pan in this wonderul picture book. Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind is a ninety-six page poem that Publisher's weekly called a "novella in verse".
You may recognize the author's name from Hollywood. Gary Ross has written and/or directed many blockbusters including Big, Dave and The Hunger Games. Ross is quite prolific and lucky for us he has found his way into children's literature.
During a storm, ten-year-old Bart decides to fashion a kite out of his bedsheet and take flight. His first destination is a land full of friendly pirates. Bart stays there for a few weeks until all the fun just doesn't seem fun anymore. Bart's next destination is a school where everyone looks miserable. There he meets another boy, Densy, who is tired of his sad little school and all its rules. Bart tries to take Densy with him to his next adventure, but Densy isn't able to find the courage to leave.
Bart's unplanned final destination is a canyon that he gets blown into during a storm. The only problem with this touch down is that there is no way out. The canyon has no wind. In the canyon, Bartholomew was in good company with other fliers who were also stranded. There was even a surprise appearance by Amelia Earhart (who knew Gary Ross held the secret of her fate all these years).
Bart is crestfallen. His mom's nagging and all his godforsaken chores back home no longer look as bad to Bart, now that there is a possibility he may never go home. Just when he couldn't get any lower, his new friend Densy showed up. Densy helped Bart find his courage again. After all, Densy had a good teacher in Bart.
The carpe diem feel of this story is like no other story I have read recently. Bartholomew is a good teacher for both children and adults. He reminds us we can do it all, if we believe in ourselves. Ross also reminds parents:
"...Cause deep down inside them,
both of them knew
the best thing a mom
or a dad ought to do
was to let kids take off
and let go of their hand,
and just watch them fly...
'cause they already can.