Paper planes by Steve Worland

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Puffin Books, 2015. ISBN 9780143308744
(Age: Upper Primary and early Secondary students) Well recommended. It's interesting to read a book of quality after a film has been made, but this is a story of commitment and obsession. Dylan lives in outback Western Australia and because of a chance suggestion from a student teacher he becomes enchanted with paper planes. Dylan's commitment takes him to Sydney and then Tokyo. Along the way, he copes with his depressed Father who is unable to deal with his wife's death and an inspirational, feisty grandfather who, with his lady friends from the Waleup Nursing Home bring scones, lamingtons and cupcakes, making the extra money to send Dylan to the World Championships in Tokyo. Dylan and Kevin, (the school bully) become friends and Kevin is Dylan's strongest supporter. Dylan's determination wins him the chance to compete in Tokyo. Jason is his main competitor. Jason's attitude is very self-confident and leaves Dylan anxious. He becomes friends with Kimi, a champion in her own right from Tokyo and his confidence gains strength.
It's an uplifting book. His love and persistence with his Father and his tolerance of him is touching. Individuals play an important role in the book giving Dylan the strength to grow and have confidence in himself and his ability to pursue a great challenge, that of being part of the World Junior Paper Plane Championships in Tokyo. It's refreshing to see how a teacher and student- teacher can have such an incredibly positive and enduring influence on, not just Dylan but Kevin and no doubt the rest of the school. The Appendices are fascinating: from Q&A with the Director, the film cast, Notes from the Paper Pilots, Tips and Tricks, How to Fold a Paper Plane and Things you might not know about Paper Planes. Lastly, the author talks about how he wanted his daughter to see the movie and then read the book. The film clips tell a visual story on their own.
Sue Nosworthy