We were sent a copy of the book Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane for the purposes of this review. My 4 year old loves it, and I now know it very nearly off by heart. This is quite a well timed book, since we’ve been talking about female leaders recently, and I thought this would continue our conversation. It didn’t – more on that later.
In this book, an extremely young-looking Jane is a pilot of a pink plane. Pink’s for girls, doncha know. The plane and Jane fly all over the world together. They visited some places we’ve been to, like Paris, and Rome, and James spotted those straight away, which was a good talking point. The author, Caroline Baxter, included a range of cities and countries to help children to learn about the world.
The dynamic duo are asked to take the Queen to a party, but unfortunately, the night before, Jane’s plane (who is called Rose) has overindulged in cake. She therefore has to spend the day under a blanket, recovering, while a boy plane steps in to save the day.
Mighty Mitch is a bit sceptical that a girl can fly him, and he starts out being a little bit boisterous. In fact, he becomes a runaway plane! Jane gives him a good talking to and they work together to fly through a storm to get the Queen to her party on time. Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane intends to offer a positive message about the importance of teamwork.
We have enjoyed this book. It is an entertaining read, though we have discussed the rhyming words more than the message of the book. I did ask James who was the leader in the book, and he replied Mitch, because he zoomed really fast. Asked if girls can fly planes, he said, “some of them can. Some of them need to be other things”. Like what? “Like teachers, or doctors, or police, or mummies”.
I think I possibly would’ve enjoyed it more if Mighty Mitch was Mighty Michelle, to show that girls can just do stuff, and other girls can be all “girl power” and step up as part of a team, rather than a man having to take a woman’s place. Actually, it felt like a book that a manager from the 1970s might have written, advising colleagues not to employ women because they have to take time off work for “women’s things”. For me, it’s missed the mark of the message. This picture book was published on 8 March to coincide with International Women’s Day. I don’t think it is quite the uplifting and empowering book it was intended to be. As a story about transport with excitement and a party to attend, it’s great!
The book Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane will be best suited for children aged 2-5, though older children may well enjoy it too.