We have lift off

posted in: Hannah Shaw, Sean Taylor | 1

wehaveliftofffrontcoverWe Have Lift Off! by Sean Taylor and Hannah Shaw is a riotously funny take on a deadly serious issue; what we’re doing to destroy our planet and how, if at all, we can save it.

Farmer Tanner’s land is polluted, the trees have all been chopped down, and the animals are crammed together into dilapidated buildings. Enough is enough, decide the creatures: It’s time to take to the skies, to find a new planet to call home. With echoes of Aardman Animations’ stop motion film Chicken Run, the farm animals build themselves an escape rocket, but the test flights don’t quite go according to plan. Are the animals doomed to end their days in the squalor of Earth? Can Farmer Tanner mend his ways (or in some other way be dealt with)?

Whilst, if you care about environmental issues, the “message” of We Have Lift Off! is very far from being a joke, this tale is told with such humour that any worries about moralising wagging fingers can be dismissed out of hand. From the marvellous opening line (“You’re looking at the first chicken in outer space, which was me.“) to the hilarious accidents which cause problems when testing the rocket (it’s like Laurel and Hardy have turned into a rabbit and sheep), each and every page will induce giggles in young and old alike.

Taylor’s text packs a powerful punch disguised as a whole lot of fun, whilst Shaw’s illustrations are just a delight. Her animals all appear slightly deranged (perhaps a touch of madness is necessary to dream of building a rocket?) and the scene with evil Farmer Tanner in his cute pyjamas (no doubt made of flannel) is especially wonderful with various eyes showing horror, worry, anxiety or steely determination, all expressed with just a few pinpricks and scratchy lines.

A tremendous book, deserving to stand alongside Foreman’s Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish, and Gliori’s The Trouble with Dragons, We Have Lift Off! will definitely get you laughing, even if its food-for-thought may, in a quiet moment, make your spine tingle.

Here’s the book trailer for We Have Lift Off!:

Inspired by A Little Learning for Two’s tutorial for making balloon powered rockets (and this similar one by Science Off Centre) we transformed our kitchen into a launch pad.

First we designed our rockets…


…then we cut them out, attached them to a straw, threaded it onto a string crossing the room, and attached a blown-up-but-unknottted balloon to the underside. Then it was 5…4…3…2…1…




Playing this game reminded me of a favourite John Prater book: Again! Every time the rocket was launched the kitchen echoed to the plea, “Again, again, AGAIN!”

Whilst making our balloon rockets we listened to:

  • Rocket Ship Man by Ben Rudnick and Friends
  • Blast Off! by Rocknoceros
  • Super Sonic Rocket Bike by The Bazillions

  • Other activities which would work well along side reading We Have Lift Off! include:

  • Making a rollicking rocket out of cardboard using Se7en’s tutorial.
  • Creating a kite which looks like a rocket, with streamers for balance giving the appearance of flames coming out as it powers in to space. Use this tutorial on Instructables to get you going.
  • Turning your dolls and teddies into astronauts using this fab tutorial from Cook Clean Craft.
  • Attaching your own personal rocket boosters and seeing where they will take you. I love this idea from Doodle Craft.

  • What are your family’s favourite books about rockets? Which one person would you send into space in the hope that removing them from Earth would make it a better place?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. I was under no obligation to review the book and received no payment for this post.

    1. Rhythm

      hahaha! A chicken in space! that’s just too much! This book looks great! And it is a really important issue to talk about. Thanks for sharing the book and all the fun rocket ideas!

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