Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Nose-Diving into History

From the Epic Fails series, volume 1

by Ben Thompson & Erik Slader ; illustrated by Tim Foley

Pub Date: July 10th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-250-15055-4
Publisher: Flash Point/Roaring Brook

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try.

In a series launch bent on showing how failure may be instructive, Thompson and Slader turn the story of the Wright Brothers into an amusing, bite-sized history lesson. History’s early flight fiascos and successes are recounted, culminating in Orville and Wilbur Wright’s. Over the years they would experiment, fail, learn from their mistakes, tinker, fail, and tenaciously pursue their dreams until they succeeded. Alas, troubles dog this well-intentioned series opener. An early statement that “It would seem that before man would learn to fly, he’d have to learn how to fall” prefaces a book that ignores the contributions (and failures) of such early women aeronauts as Sophie Blanchard. In a section on ballooning, a statement that the novel Around the World in Eighty Days was “about circling the globe in a hot air balloon” is incorrect (no ballooning occurs in that book). Attempts to appeal to child readers today yield awkward sentences that describe the brothers as “steampunk hipsters at Comic-Con” wrestling with the controls of the plane “like trying to play a multiplayer computer game with a really bad Internet connection.” Artist Foley renders the text accessible with his lively pen-and-ink drawings, but they are too little, too late.

It may not be epic, but this is certainly one launch that fails to get off the ground.

(Nonfiction. 8-10)