Fantasy is deftly combined with realism in this tale of two children, Emmelisa and Dell Planemaker. Science and metaphysics blend together as Dell and Emmelisa deal with troubles ranging from the tragic loss of their father to the agony of coping with school bullies. They begin to find solutions to these real problems when they happen upon their father’s old computer, and, with the help of their mysterious family cat, Cosmos, find themselves magically transported into the computer’s inner workings. They have entered a magical city where the buildings have names like the Central Processing Unit and the Read Only Memory building, where they and their readers incidentally learn the various parts of an actual computer and how the interconnected parts work to make the computer function. They are guided by a strange-looking individual named A. Leon Spaceman, and meet several of his companions. Eventually, they embark on a journey into space and a quest for their father’s “trail of light.”
Mr. Planemaker’s Flying Machine by Shelagh Watkins is available through amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Watkins’s extensive knowledge regarding computer technology and the science of space travel combine with her imaginative story-telling skill as she weaves the children’s adventures with a fascinating primer where young people can learn about science as they get caught up in the travels of Dell and Emmelisa.
The metaphysical element is explored through the dreams of Mr. Planemaker and his children, and it is often difficult to tell where that element ends and the scientific one begins. The sometimes harsh realities of the children’s lives are tempered by the thoughtful manner in which their story is told, as well as through the solutions they find on their quest. The action of the story holds up through the book’s very last pages and its surprising ending. While the book was written for children, adult readers will also find themselves caught up in its ageless story.
Ann L Joiner
(reviewed the day of purchase)