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    Imagination takes flight in Lisa Brown’s ‘The Airport Book’

    An image from “The Airport Book.”
    An image from “The Airport Book.”

    ‘The Airport Book’

    By Lisa Brown, Roaring Brook Press, $17.99, ages 5-7

    The adults are harried and the children are anxious: It must be time for a family vacation!

    But for the multiracial family that stars in Lisa Brown’s “The Airport Book,” the drama is all in the journey, not the destination. The vacation spot — a beachy retreat, with grandparents — is just a serene coda to the urgent freestyle of the story. Pages are packed with recurring bit players and mysteries introduced and solved, all in the course of a lesson on air travel. The second-person text is simple and explanatory: “Inside the airport you stand in lines. You stand in lines to get your tickets. You stand in lines to check your bags. There are lines for restrooms. There are lines to go through security.” But it’s playfully mock-instructional, too: “Little sisters cry when they go through the scanner.”

    The pages are so full of travel activity that “The Airport Book” looks like a modern, updated version of Richard Scarry’s classic Busytown books with their familiar cast of animal characters swapped for a diverse set of humans — a traveler in a wheelchair, a grandfatherly man in a kitty sweater, a girls soccer team on the go, a mustachioed man in a bolo tie and polka-dotted socks, and a woman who looks suspiciously like a famous aviator.

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    There’s even a stand-in for Scarry’s cheerful, ubiquitous Lowly Worm — a sock monkey, which is the comfort object of the aforementioned little sister. Readers watch as the little girl packs her monkey, then follow him, or at least his tail, as he makes his way through security in a suitcase and then gets loaded under the plane with the luggage. And who doesn’t want to know what happens in the cargo hold? It is there that the sock monkey makes friends with a dainty Dalmatian while the human passengers divert themselves during the flight in the seats above.

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    “The Airport Book” has plenty of delightful distractions of its own, so many that it takes a few re-reads to catch them all. It’s the perfect book for eager travelers, anxious travelers, or just young readers who love to learn about how things work from the comfort of home.