Monday, July 16, 2007

Book Review: L'avion de Gaston

Today I am going to review the first French book I was able to read, L'avion de Gaston by Nathalie Bélineau.

It was a relatively easy read. There were only 4 or 5 lines of text per page. The pictures were well done with a reflective metallic looking airplane. The pages are made of cardboard, giving the book good durability. As a student of French, I got plenty of vocabulary from this book. I found it entertaining and delightful.

I found the book had several problems with it though. While there was plenty on the protagonist, Gaston, the book entirely lacked character development. There is an Air Traffic Controller, a mechanic, and a slightly anthropomorphic bird who's names aren't even mentioned.

I was curious about the bird. The bird wears a scarf and goggles and flies very close to the plane. I guess the bird is unaware of the hazards of bird-strikes. The bird will surely be killed by getting chopped up by the propeller. The propeller will likely be damaged by the bird. Gaston may crash and die. But, he seems to have a parachute.

This is supposed to be a children's book. But I'm not sure we should be exposing our children to that level of glorified danger!

The front cover shows Gaston flying directly above a cloud. Does he have his IFR rating? The book doesn't explicitly say, but judging by a picture of the cockpit, I don't think the plane is equipped for IFR flight. I don't even think he has a radio with which to communicate with the tower and other aircraft! (Not to mention how dangerous, and uncomfortable it is to fly directly above a cloud!)

As a student pilot, I am well aware of the dangers of Gaston's flying style. But most children will be oblivious. This is a potentially very dangerous book!

In summary, I can recommend this book only to adult student pilots, but in the hands of a child it's just a recipe for disaster. That's a risk I just don't want to be responsible for.


C.F.B said...

Technically a book review on a French book should be written in should really help your French...actually I like that idea...writing a blog posting in French!

Anonymous said...

I agree french book should be review in french.

Esther Carney said...

Hi Andrew,
Interesting blogs.
Good review too, and I notice you like some of the same sorts of things that I do (martial arts, flying, action/adventure etc), so I had an idea. Please write to me and I will explain.
Love esther
PS hope the fish didn't suffer

Esther Carney said...

Hi Andrew,
I just realized - I did write back to you the first time.
Your spam filter must have eaten my email.
Love esther

Arthur said...

Maybe he had his VFR OTT rating and was allowed flying over the cloud... or on the other hand, maybe the cloud layer was merely 'Few' or 'scattered'. Did the book mention anything about him reading the latest METAR and checking the cloud cover?

Andrew said...

Arthur, good points.

Upon closer inspection, he's either directly above a cloud, as though sitting right on it, or the clouds are off in the distance.

The other clouds are his exhaust! That lil' @#$@#% is contributing to pollution and global warming!

This is even more serious than I thought!