FEATHERS, FLAPS, AND FLOPS

FABULOUS EARLY FLIERS

In this terrific salute to those who fulfilled that eternal human urge to take to the skies, Zaunders skips the Wright Brothers and Earhart in favor of some lesser-known pioneers of the air. There’s the Montgolfier brothers, who invented the hot-air balloon in the 18th century and flew in it for Louis XVI; Alberto Santos-Dumont, whose European aircraft was called the Infuriated Grasshopper in 1906; and Beryl Markham, who flew “west with the night” from Abingdon, England, to Newfoundland. Readers learn from the introduction that John Damian, an Italian in 16th-century Scotland, tried to fly with wings made of chicken feathers, and that Cal Rogers, who flew across the US first, named his plane the Vin Fiz after the grape drink of the company that sponsored him. The prose is as lively and spirited as the characters—what child won’t be enchanted by the story of Wrong-Way Corrigan?—and Munro’s energetic and spiffily detailed images are just right. (Collective biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46466-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age...

THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE

Beverly Cleary has written all kinds of books (the most successful ones about the irrepressible Henry Huggins) but this is her first fantasy.

Actually it's plain clothes fantasy grounded in the everyday—except for the original conceit of a mouse who can talk and ride a motorcycle. A toy motorcycle, which belongs to Keith, a youngster, who comes to the hotel where Ralph lives with his family; Ralph and Keith become friends, Keith gives him a peanut butter sandwich, but finally Ralph loses the motorcycle—it goes out with the dirty linen. Both feel dreadfully; it was their favorite toy; but after Keith gets sick, and Ralph manages to find an aspirin for him in a nearby room, and the motorcycle is returned, it is left with Ralph....

The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age group. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 1965

ISBN: 0380709244

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1965

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Laden with retro charm and sly humor, this won’t suit every reader, but fans of fast-paced, far-fetched action will lap it...

LANTERN SAM AND THE BLUE STREAK BANDITS

A talking cat with a penchant for problem-solving and self-reflection, a clever kidnapping-cum–jewel heist, a couple of kids and a friendly train conductor all collide in an atmospheric late-1930s adventure with old-time cinematic appeal.

Mystery author Beil returns to his Ohio roots with a main character, 10-year-old Henry Shipley from Ashtabula, and a climactic scene on board the Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park. The bulk of the action, however, takes place on a train. Henry, an observant, artistic child, narrates while the eponymous Lantern Sam, a male calico, inserts chapters detailing his own earlier life and frequent narrow escapes. Both boy and cat are drawn into the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of Ellie Strasbourg, a wealthy young girl. The author balances his parallel narratives relatively well, though Sam’s story takes some unexpected directions, as when he details the danger posed by his brief flirtation with an older, female cat named Marmalade. The epilogue, written by an elderly Henry, makes sense of the occasionally arch, adult-sounding tone, but some readers may struggle to keep track of the multiple subplots and several sets of secondary (stock) characters.

Laden with retro charm and sly humor, this won’t suit every reader, but fans of fast-paced, far-fetched action will lap it up as enthusiastically as Sam swallows his favorite brand of sardines . (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-75317-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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