Award-Winning Books Picture Book Challenge 2011 Picture Books Reading Themes When Words are Not Enough

Breaking Free and Soaring High: The Power of Creativity and Imagination in David Wiesner’s SECTOR 7

Picture Book Challenge: 48 of 72

Book borrowed from the library – photo taken by me

Fats here.

“The sky, a perfect empty canvas, offers clouds nonetheless. They shift and drift and beg interpretation… Such is the nature of art.” – Jeb Dickerson
(Quote taken from

YES, dear readers, Fats is back – or at least trying to! Due to a series of unfortunate (and unforeseen) events, I had to take a break from GatheringBooks to pull myself back together. It pained my heart not to be able to write reviews during the previous month, but I was grateful for the constant updates that Myra and Mary would post on Facebook. Being off of the blogosphere had an alienating effect on me, but being constantly reminded of the love and support that readers like you give to GatheringBooks is comforting enough to get my feet back on track. (Which reminds me, I have yet to read all the reviews that Myra and Mary had posted since the beginning of March, along with your wonderful comments, while drafting my reviews. Good luck with that. Haha.)

For this comeback, I have decided to feature the work of an award-winning author-illutrator that most of you are probably familiar with – DAVID WIESNER. While I have my own copies of Tuesday and Art & Max, this particular book – Sector 7 – which I borrowed from the library had a certain effect on me when I first held it in my hands. Mostly because I rarely see this pop up whenever I search for Wiesner’s picture books.

Sector 7 was published in 1999 and garnered the Caldecott Honor award. When I saw the cover, I was reminded of Nintendo’s Super Mario World because of the dome-shaped structure of the building with pipes protruding from it. (Yes, I am both strange and geeky that way.) Already, I developed a connection with the book, bringing about a certain familiarity that I could not quite explain.

Even Clouds Tell Stories. This wordless picture book tells the story of a boy who went to a class field trip to the Empire State Building. There, he befriended a cloud that took him thousands of feet up in the sky, to a place known as Sector 7 – a cloud factory of sorts that resembled a train station complete with an arrival-departure board, a waiting room, and an assignment station on a two-page spreadsheet. The boy eventually learned of the clouds’ dilemma: over time, the clouds had become bored of their plain structure and wished they looked different. Lucky for our friendly balls of fluff, the boy happened to be good at drawing. He then drew a series of images that served as the clouds’ new “blueprint.” When the Sector 7 employees realized that the boy altered with the normal order of things (as evidenced by clouds in the form of a star, a complicated-looking block, and a variety of sea creatures), they decided to send the boy back to the Empire State Building. The remaining pages of the book showed images of octopus, puffer fish, and lion fish among other species floating in the sky along with the regular-looking clouds.Our boy hero meets the young cloud - photo taken by me

Break Free and Soar High. We here at GatheringBooks like to do things in our own crazy way. We always make an effort to go beyond our limitations and come up with fresh-from-the-oven ideas. This partly explains why I developed an affinity with Sector 7. It opens readers – young and old, alike – to the idea that we can break free from the norm and be better individuals. Few of us ever realize that there is more to us than meets the eye, that’s why we become stagnant and cease to grow. The Sector 7 employees represent our limitations that “box” us, while the boy and the clouds’ desire to break free represent the “change” we want to be.

The Magic of Flight and Imagination. While Sector 7 slightly deviates from other David Wiesner books such as Free Fall, Flotsam, and Three Pigs, it still manages to capture the heart of Wiesner storytelling. All these books incorporate the idea of flight, and that, with imagination, we can go wherever we want. Sector 7 reminds us not to underestimate the power of imagination. And while some people think of imagination as mere child’s play, I think it’s one of the most powerful ‘tools’ a person can have. It comes in handy especially in times of adversity.

A Flashflood of Memories and All Things Familiar. For me, Sector 7 is a hodgepodge of childhood memories. I always find it comforting when a certain book triggers a series of images and memories from the ‘childhood’ center in my brain. Look at it as if you are trying to connect the dots.

  1. In the first few pages of the book, when the boy appeared as if he had gone astray, I was reminded of Kevin McCallister getting lost in the airport in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
  2. It was not until the young cloud took the boy in the sky that I realized that Sector 7 was actually floating. And for that, the image of Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky popped up in my head. That, and the Hallelujah Mountains from the movie Avatar.
  3. Ever since I was little, I’ve always enjoyed looking at clouds. Clouds fuel my imagination. Like David Wiesner himself, I have always wondered what goes on up there and what the world would be like if we see a giant-octopus- or a lion-fish-cloud for a change. My cloud addiction began 3 years ago, before I had my job at the local Wal-Mart store by my place. I would go out for a walk, bring my camera with me, and take pictures of clouds. Clouds, clouds, clouds! You can visit my cloud collection on my Facebook page here and here.

An Afterthought. As with other David Wiesner books, Sector 7 is highly recommended to the young and the young-at-heart, even with the wordless nature of the book. One of the advantages of wordless picture books is that readers are able to appreciate the images more, to devour it with gusto. You can never go wrong with David Wiesner’s artworks. You want quality art, you got it. The clouds in the book were so mesmerizing to look at that I seriously wanted to see them in the sky one of these days. =)

About David Wiesner. David Wiesner is one of the best-loved and most highly acclaimed picture book creators in the world. Three of the picture books he both wrote and illustrated became instant classics when they won the prestigious Caldecott Medal: Tuesday in 1992, The Three Pigs in 2002, and Flotsam in 2007, making him only the second person in the award’s long history to have won three times. He has also received two Caldecott Honors, for Free Fall and Sector 7. (Taken from David Wiesner’s website as featured in

To learn more about David Wiesner, visit and read about his biography, creative process, and his Caldecott Medal acceptance speech for Tuesday, among other things.
David Wiesner’s photo taken from

Super Mario World image taken from
Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky taken from
Book was borrowed from the library, and all book photos were taken by me

Fats is the Assistant Manager for Circulation Services at the Wayne County Public Library in Wooster, Ohio. She considers herself a reader of all sorts, although she needs to work on her non-fiction reading. Fats likes a good mystery but is not too fond of thrillers. She takes book hoarding seriously and enjoys collecting bookmarks and tote bags. When she is not reading, Fats likes to shop pet apparel for her cat Penny (who absolutely loathes it).

11 comments on “Breaking Free and Soaring High: The Power of Creativity and Imagination in David Wiesner’s SECTOR 7

  1. Glad to see you back in reviewing form. Haha.
    I love the images here. It’s so fantastical. I love how the clouds are formed it’s almost a play in the idea of cloud watching, don’t you think? Also, I love the title in its ambiguity and makes you think of what it means. I’m definitely a Wiesner Fan now. Haha.


    • HAHA! Thanks, Mary! I’m glad, too. I worked on the draft for about 5 hours! (All thanks to the family, to Facebook, and to American Idol. LOL.) I’m sure you’ll enjoy Sector 7 as much as I did. I posted my favorite images from the book. I agree. It’s the title the intrigued me. Not that Wiesner’s other titles are not intriguing enough! Immediately, I was drawn to the book, asking myself, “What on earth is Sector 7?!” You are funny. I became a fan since The Three Pigs. I initially thought that his works are mostly like that. (You know how author-illustrators have a certain trademark?) Well, he is pretty flexible as an artist, which is also something readers should look into. Will probably be doing 2 more Wiesner books.


  2. Hi! Some of the cloud shapes reminded me of the Ghostbusters Logo. Come to think of it. I saw one that has the same shape as Slimer. (Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!) (Sorry, couldn’t resist typing that in. Teehee ^^) I love the idea of the cloud factory being a sort of train station which for me really establishes the idea of structure. Train Stations have to be organized and they have a schedule and they stick to it. The people in uniforms reinforces even more that idea. They give off that ” we do things in a matter-of-fact way” and there is just no room for imagination and creativity. After I read your post, I just had to look at the clouds outside. =)


    • Hi, Tin! =) Cloud shapes from the book? Good point on structure. Yes, indeed. This probably explains why the clouds became bored over time. Clouds are beautiful to look at. Do visit my cloud collections when you get a chance. I may not be a professional photographer but, hey, some of those clouds are really nice to look at. Thanks for dropping by, Tin. =)


      • Yup, cloud shapes from the book, the one when the boy first arrived at the cloud factory. The 4th picture in your post including the cover of Sector 7 book and the Super Mario World picture. I will check out your cloud pictures as well. I do enjoy Myra’s Winter photographs of her Lake Tahoe trip. =)


  3. Sector 7 was my children’s favorite book by David Wiesner when we celebrated his birthday a while back. Great review.


    • Hi Eric! Thank you. =) Yes, to date, Sector 7 is my favorite David Wiesner book. It makes me wish that somewhere up there, behind the fluffiness in the sky, is a Sector 7 that generates clouds in the forms of sea creatures, dinosaurs, and the solar system! Thank you for the sharing the link. I like your birthday post on David Wiesner. I agree that wordless picture books cultivate children’s imagination and creativity by coming up with their own words. I also like the links/resources you added in the end. Happy late birthday, David Wiesner! =)


  4. I always wondered what Sector 7 was about, but never really looked at it. Sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I would have figured out what the book was about without text to go along with it. 🙂


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