pbk., 208pp., RRP $A16.99
The beige town of Waleup sits in the beige landscape of rural Western Australia and generally life goes on there in a beige kind of blur. Life for Dylan is fairly beige too, particularly since his mother died and his father has sunk into a deep depression, often not rousing himself from the couch for days on end. The one thing that brings Dylan alive is Clive – a large bird of prey that he feeds a rasher of bacon each day on his way to school. That is until a student teacher comes to town and initiates a paper plane flying competition.
Remarkably, Dylan folds a paper plane in the way his mother taught him that flies further than anyone else’s although because it is wind-assisted he cannot claim a record. However, it does open up opportunities for him to compete in the Australian junior flying competition (and perhaps even a shot at the World Championships in Tokyo) giving him a focus and an interest that he has not had for some time. But Dylan has many battles to overcome – his father’s inability to support him; a rich-kid bully who thinks winning is everything; the costs of getting to Sydney and Tokyo- and he learns as much about himself and other people as he does about flight. But Dylan is not alone and with the support of his fabulous 90 year-old grandfather and the current world champ Kimi, he pushes on towards his dream.
This is the novel of the highly-successful film Paper Planes that captured the imaginations of so many during the recent school holidays and because of the huge potential for learning about science, technology, engineering and maths from paper planes I purchased my own copy. Although there is a difference between writing a screenplay and a novel, nevertheless it was an engaging read that I think many who have seen the movie will enjoy. It offers huge scope to collaborate with classroom-based teachers to explore a wide range of curriculum areas and for that alone, it should be in your collection. I even found myself seeking out the greatest, addictive time-waster of 10 years ago where I once ranked in the top 100 000 in the world!
Even if you don’t want to organise a competiton in your school, your students will be really pleased they can now enjoy this story in print as well as on the screen.