Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse is Torben Khulmann’s award-winning debut book as writer and illustrator. Khulmann created Lindbergh during his time at Hamburg University whilst studying for a degree in Illustration & Communication Design. The book serves as a tribute to Charles Lindbergh, who achieved the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic, although with a minor role reversal as Lindbergh is inspired by a rather courageous mouse (even the foreword at the start pays tribute to Lindbergh’s true inspiration). Khulmann’s passion and knowledge about strange contraptions and all things mechanical shine through in this wonderfully illustrated narrative which is quite simply, a work of art.
There once lived a mouse who liked nothing more than hiding away for months at a time and reading books written by humans. When the mouse reappears from one such break, he finds that all his fellow rodents have disappeared. The world he once knew has changed, human homes are no longer safe and strange mechanical contraptions have appeared. Surmising that all his fellow mice must have fled to America he sets about joining them but with the ports heavily guarded by menacing eyes and sharp claws the plan to stowaway seems destined to fail. Out of options and with his life in serious danger a chance encounter with some “flying mice” might just provide the catalyst for an idea to ensure a successful escape. Under the ever-too-close-eyes of predators, the inventive little mouse must overcome one failure after another to make his flight to freedom a reality.
Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse teaches the reader how anything is possible as long as they have the right attitude. The story is a true testament to how even the smallest can achieve great things and should serve in teaching the reader that although they may be young or small, this should never be a reason for failure to achieve. In a world where everything is so readily accessible, where things happen in the click of a button and gratification is almost instantaneous, it is a wonderful lesson in the old adage that, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again." Through the mouse’s action we see the values of patience, perseverance, resilience and problem solving. It is essential that children understand that things are not accomplished without first encountering failures and that it is part of the learning process. Our lives will not be defined by how many failures we experience but how we respond to our failures, and I would hope that after reading this book the reader can learn from the actions of the mouse and be a bit more like him.
I really enjoyed the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) aspect of the narrative. Without giving too much away, it was great to read and learn how the invention evolved and how the engineering concepts became more advanced. The narrative has a trajectory that is not dissimilar to that of aviation history and there is a nice section at the end that pays a brief tribute to pioneers of aviation.
This is a truly beautiful book, the pages are thick and it feels likes you are holding something magical, you can almost hear the pages as you turn them and it just adds that extra special feeling. It is hard to explain the attention to detail and the craftsmanship that has gone into the illustrations - it is a labour of love. The sheer beauty of the illustrations can sometimes make the text feel redundant and it definitely plays the supporting role. However, it is a necessary supporting role as if this were solely a picture book then there would be gaps in the narrative and it would be disjointed. I found the text to be rich in vocabulary and it is the text that makes this an independent read best suited for older children whilst younger children would take pleasure in looking at the illustrations and would delight in the story as a read-aloud.