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Simon & Schuster
"The Boy and the Airplane" is a wordless picture book by Salt Lake artist Mark Pett. The launch party for it is April 2.

THE BOY AND THE AIRPLANE,” by Mark Pett, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $15.99 (ages 4-10)

A boy receives a present of a toy airplane and finds much joy throwing and chasing it until one thrust unfortunately lands the plane on the roof. Many attempts to retrieve it are unsuccessful, but the boy never gives up.

“The Boy and the Airplane” is a sequential story with a complex problem plot without text; a wordless picture book.

Illustrated books without words have always been a popular sub-genre of picture books, some very beautifully developed. Two examples are “A Boy, a Dog and a Frog,” by Mercer Mayer and Raymond Briggs’ “The Snowman.” The artist who attempts a wordless picture book must choose deliberate ways to make meaning through art without words to tell a complete story.

Utahn Mark Pett is right on point for an accomplished wordless picture book by fulfilling a story’s literary elements — plot, theme, characterization, mood, climax and conclusion — all without text. In this case, the boy (unnamed since it could be “every child”) confronts a problem (climbing to a roof) and solves it in his own time and way.

The time frame of the story and the theme will be obvious to even the youngest audience, as will the mood that Pett establishes through simple body gestures and eye movement. The flat charcoal and gray background is perfect for the simple pencil sketches and the sienna wash added to highlight the plane.

Since there is no text as printed storyline, “The Boy and the Airplane” is open for personal “telling” and interpretations. There likely will be a variety of those with a “let’s do it again” at the conclusion of each story time, which is surely the test of an impressively developed picture book. Pett has succeeded completely.

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Pett, a Salt Lake City artist, collaborated on “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” and is the creator of the syndicated comic strips "Mr. Lowe" and "Lucky Cow."

If you go ...

What: "The Boy and the Aiplane" launch party and Mark Pett book signing

When: Tuesday, April 2, 6:30 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Also ...

What: Children's Book Week Storytime

When: Saturday, May 18, 11 a.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Email: marilousorensen@ymail.com