Review: The Plan by Alison Paul

The Plan by Alison Paul

The Plan by Alison Paul, illustrated by Barbara Lehman (InfoSoup)

Told in words that shift by one letter from page to page, this picture book is a lesson in imagination from its structure to its subject matter. A little girl makes a plan to take a plane up into space to Saturn. She lives on a farm with her dog who accompanies her everywhere. As they work on the farm, she discovers a key that unlocks her father’s photo album. There she discovers that he and her mother were pilots on The Mighty Comet. So the girl shares her plan with her father. They all work together to restore the airplane, allowing themselves time to grieve for the loss of her mother, and then all take off into the air together.

Paul demonstrates incredible restraint and control in the text of this book. Changing just one letter from page to page could result in a book that is stagnant, but instead this book explores and the story develops in a natural way. The simple text allows readers to fill in the story, to discover the key and what it unlocks, and to participate in the shared adventure. The component of the mother’s death is deftly handled, subtle and quiet.

With such simple text, the illustrations by Lehman really tell the full story. Done in watercolor, gouache and ink, they too share the quiet wonder of the text. They are done in deep colors that shimmer on the page, inviting the reader to look closely and explore.

A brilliant picture book filled with word play that is easy to read and a story with beauty and depth. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.