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Home » The Vine

The Vine: July 22, 2009

Submitted by on July 22, 2009 – 10:22 AM42 Comments

I’m on the road today, so until I get back to Brooklyn airspace, I’m leaving you with an Ask The Readers of my own about a book I read 25 years ago — part of the giant stack of library books I brought to Cape Cod, actually, that summer.

It’s a YA book; I read it in hardcover, and it had a watercolor of the protagonist — a boy named Parker — on the cover.   He’s wearing some sort of flight-suit-type gear, maybe goggles on his head (not sure of that part), and the illustration is good enough that I developed a small crush on Parker because of it.   (Believe me: I know.   Again, I was 11.)

Parker is in his early teens, I believe, but could be younger, and the plot involves him building some sort of glider or plane; I’m almost certain it’s a glider.   The B plot is his crush on some girl, I think, which would track for that genre, and I think maybe he’s building the glider because his father died? left? something like that?

Occasionally I Google the book to see if I can find anything, but the search string gets clogged up with Spider-Man spin-offs and porch swings no matter what terms I use (or select out), so I’m hoping one of you has heard of this.   I’m no help on Parker’s last name or the title, or the year of publication, although it has to have come out before 1985 at the latest but was probably published in ’83 or ’84.

The first reader to identify the book for me correctly in the comments will win a gift certificate to Amazon, in addition to my gratitude. Don’t forget, please TinyURL any super-long links, and if you can find examples with the cover art present, so much the better.

So, any thoughts?




  • Hannah says:

    Huh, I don’t think this is it, but the description made me think of The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Robert Cormier. I read it probably 15 or more years ago, and it was old then (belonged to my sisters originally, and and hopefully they can clarify, ahem). The lead character’s name there was Barney, so google tells me, and he was an orphan in some kind of asylum where they experimented on kids. But I remember the cover had a nice picture of a boy .possibly. in some kind of flight gear? The title always made me think about flying, though it was actually about a cardboard car, as I recall, that they built and flew off a ramp or something…? I can’t seem to find that particular cover when I google it, though…

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I read that one as a kid; it’s not the same one, alas.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    It’s not “Fly Away Home” – but that does have cool watercolors, (and was written by Eve Bunting – you’d have remembered that.) …the Dad is present in the book.
    That’s the one I keep running into, Googling without the “Parker”
    I’ll be back, since that was so unhelpful…

  • Sean says:

    I don’t think it’s this, but I remember “Dragonwings” from my childhood reading days:

  • Sean says:

    Or “Grounded” by Tom Domke. Can’t find an image of the cover, though:

  • Sean says:

    Here’s a teeny-tiny image of “Grounded.” (No, I’m not avoiding work today. Why do you ask?)

  • Jeremy Preacher says:

    Just an image – I’m sure it’s not the actual book, but is that about the style?

  • stanley says:

    Could it be this?

  • stanley says:

    I think it is what I said before, Grounded by Todd Domke. Check out this contemporary review:

    This books sounds awesome, by the way. Neil Diamond? I’ll have to check it out.

  • Karen says:

    Could it possibly be Park’s Quest by Katherine Paterson? The more obscure cover does have a kid in military garb, and the dad is out of the picture: No idea if there’s a glider involved, though!

  • tabernacle says:

    (This is probably a dead end, but…)

    Is there any chance “Parker” might be the illustrator’s name rather than the protagonist’s?

    I ask because I’ve been finding some watercolors by Robert Andrew Parker:

  • Jennifer says:

    Is it “Grounded” by Todd Domke? There is a small, blurry image here:

  • Georgia says:

    It made me think of Park’s Quest by Katherine Paterson, but I’m not sure that’s it. It does have a watercolor cover, but it’s of a boy standing at the Vietnam Memorial–because his dad died in Vietnam.

  • Hollie says:

    Sarah, is it Grounded by Todd Domke? It was published in 1982, about the right time. Here’s a review in the Ocala Star-Banner –….

  • Hollie says:

    And there’s a blurry shot of a cover here –

  • Margaret in CO says:

    I got nuthin. (hangs head in shame)

  • Editrix says:

    Is it Grounded by Todd Domke?

  • Jane says:

    “Fly Away Home” is a picture book, not a novel, though. I’ll do some digging on this and see what I can come up with.

  • Katherine says:

    Could it be “Crazy to Fly” by Martha Orr Conn? I believe the protagonist’s name is Tommy and it’s set during WWI, which you’ would probably remember. The cover made me think of your description, however.

  • Niki says:

    Are you a member of Fiction DataBase ( I’m not, but I’ve seen folks get really good results running this sort of information through their (advanced/member-only) search engine.

  • Agent Weiss says:

    No idea on the book, but I think we went to Cape Cod that summer, too and it rained the entire time we were there! BOO! Hope this vacation is not rainy!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    It’s totally “Grounded.” GOD how embarrassing. That kid is not cute AT all. And I seriously have zero recollection of the school-play subplot. (Love that review, though. “Oh, Heavens,” indeed, Rima.)

    Great detective work, everyone — and seriously, this had been bugging me for yeeeeears — but it’s Sean FTW! Sean, email me to collect your swag: bunting at tomatonation dot com.

  • Sophie says:

    The Ocala Star-Banner is my new favorite paper of record. Check out the Back to School offer in the ad to the right of the review — “PERMS For The Entire Family!” I wonder if my boys would go for it. $100 (and a time machine) + a box of Ticonderogas = a 2nd grade opener to remember.

  • Sandman says:

    “PERMS For The Entire Family!” is totally my new catchphrase.

  • Jo says:

    Darn, other people beat me to it. But someone in the Book Sleuth forum at also suggested Grounded by Todd Domke. I couldn’t find my own image, but the one he posted matched your description.

  • Alyce says:

    @Sean or others, I’d love to know how you found it. This is the one thing that is often missing from Booksleuth and others.

    Did you remember it? Google it? (an aside, will “Bing it” ever catch on?) What search terms?

  • Leigh in CO says:

    Oh, Sars, he’s totally 11-year-old cute. That turned-up nose, the dreamy eyes, the flowy locks…I wouldn’t be embarrassed.

    @Alyce, my last name lends itself to “Bing” as a nickname, and some days I really hope Bing catches on, and other days I’m not so sure. Your “Bing it” usage sounds pretty good, though. Hmmm…

  • Laura says:

    The newspaper containing the contemporary review? Fantastic. The “perms for the whole family!” ad, and the big article on “singles” were my favorites.

  • Liz in Minneapolis says:

    (Alyce, apropos of nothing, I hate those Bing ads so much that when some store’s web site directed me to Bing Maps for directions, I reflexively nearly refused to use the map in protest. “Bing it” had better never become a thing, except in some sarcastic way.)

  • Margaret in CO says:

    The Erma Bombeck article in the Ocala Star-Banner made me miss that woman so much! She & Joan Rivers & Phyllis Diller let me know I didn’t need to be perfect when I grew up. (Good thing, since I’m far far far from perfect!) Awwww.

  • stanley says:

    @Alyce: I Googled “build glider children’s book.” The first link that came up was someone asking the same question Sars did, with a bunch of answers, one of which was the Amazon link. Amazon didn’t have the kid’s name, but I thought the cover looked pretty close: tween-dream with glasses/goggles on head. Then when I googled the suggested answer, I got the brilliant 1982 Ocala Star-Ledger page. Which, my god, is there nothing that’s not on the interweb?

    I was only unsure because the school-play thing was missing, but that’s not surprising. I can’t even post my own Forgotten Book because I cannot even formulate enough details in my head for a two-word Google search. Just…on tip…of brain…

  • Sean says:

    @Alyce: I used a database available through my public library’s Website, NoveList K-8. I think I used a variety of search terms before I just searched for “glider” and then looked at the dates to find something in the date range. A little more Googling found the image.

  • Jenn says:

    @Alyce: I think most people still associate “Bing” with Chandler from “Friends,” so I’m not sure it’ll ever catch on.

  • Jo says:

    Alyce: I used the book sleuth forums at

  • Hollie says:

    Alyce, I used Google – Parker “build a glider” book.

  • Sue says:

    @ Margaret in CO – Oh, I loved Erma Bombeck too. My husband and I just got our passports renewed, and Oy Gott, I don’t know what god I angered to have my passport photo look so very, very awful. (It looked ok in the Walgreens when the guy took it, so how it ended up so horrible in the actual passport, I don’t know.) Anyway, it reminds me of Erma’s hilarious book title (and book) “When you look like your passport photo, it’s time to go home.” I mentioned it to my younger (by like 5 years) co-workers, and they just blink at me, obviously having never heard of Erma Bombeck. So sad. I simply must head down to the library and get her books again!

  • KateGM says:

    I think I was too young to remember Erma Bombeck’s columns but I did read some of her books when I was about 10 or so. Very funny. And my mom has one of her essays redone in a pretty calligraphy and framed on the living room wall. I think it’s the one about oatmeal kisses.

  • Marie says:

    So much for trying to work the last hour of a Friday, instead I’m reading through that paper from 1982… I love the column “Doesn’t anyone ever play games just for the fun of it anymore?” Already there was the worry of video games corrupting everyone’s mind and making us lazy slobs. “Will tennis elbow and swimmer’s ear be replaced by “Pac Man Eye” or Atari Fingers”? hehe. Oh, just wait until the internet arrives, my man.

  • Leigh in CO says:

    I actually remember that Dear Abby; the headline made quite an impression on my adolescent self.

    And thanks to everyone who presented their search strategies, too. Very helpful. I used to think I was a good Googler until I started trying to solve these.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    Me too, Leigh. Maybe it’s like driving, everyone thinks they’re a good Googler…but I was stumped!

    Jenn, you’re right – I hear “Bing,” I still think “Chandler.” Not that I speak for the masses, but I am pretty average.

    Mmmm, Atari fingers, with Commodore VIC-20 sauce….hee.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    My go-to “Bing” reference is “The Sopranos” — and “he disrespected the Bing” can apply to myriad different annoyances.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    The copy I ordered from has arrived, and…boy, that kid is NOT that cute. I mean, he is, but…for a girl. Oh, 11-year-old self.

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