Jeffers, O. (2007). The Way Back Home. New York: Philomel Books.
Irish author Oliver Jeffers shares the imaginative story of a young boy who discovers an airplane in his closet. The boy flies to the moon, but runs out of gas while he’s up in the sky. Stuck on the moon, the boy meets a Martian who is having spaceship problems.
This is a wonderful book to help children with fears of the dark, being alone or the unknown while also sharing the importance of friendship to help children through tough times. It also shows one way in which it is possible to maintain friendships from a long distance.
The illustrations are fun and could be used to encourage students to draw their own pictures of airplanes or characters in different locations around (or off) the world. Chances are good, students will want to spend a few minutes staring at some of the pages taking note of the details and expressions.
Activities to Do with the Book:
A good read aloud, a teacher could follow up by using the idea of an airplane that could take a child anywhere and have imaginative adventures to destinations.
Another option would be to focus on the idea of a friendly Martian. Students could come up with ideas of what the Martian would eat, what it’s home would look like, etc. This could then lead to an introductory lesson on what Mars is actually like.
This is also a good book to use to trigger ideas about teamwork and maintaining friendships even if one of the young friends lives far away. Students could brainstorm on the various ways that people can remain in contact or design their own ideas for the technology of the future.
“Once there was a boy, and one day, as he was putting his things back in the closet, he found an airplane.”
“The boy heard noises. The Martian heard noises. Both feared the worst. But as their eyes got used to the dark, both the boy and the Martian realized they’d met someone else in trouble.”
“The boy showed the Martian his empty fuel tank and the Martian showed the boy his broken engine.”