MY BROTHER’S FLYING MACHINE by Jane Yolen

MY BROTHER’S FLYING MACHINE

Wilbur, Orville, and Me
by , illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 10

KIRKUS REVIEW

Though the Wright brothers both credited their sister Katharine as a partner in their grand enterprise, she seldom emerges from the biographical shadows. Here Yolen (Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast, p. 244, etc.) tries, and fails, to redress this, describing from Katharine’s point of view how the brothers’ early interest in tinkering with machines grew into a nearly full-time, ultimately successful, effort to build ones that flew. But aside from mentioning that she minded the household, and sometimes the store, for Wilbur and Orville, and believed in them, the narrator keeps the spotlight on their achievements, remaining more a reporter than a shaper of events. Burke, too, generally keeps her in the background, or poses her just looking at her brothers or reading a letter from them. Furthermore, though a final scene of Katharine exuberantly spreading her arms on her own first flight in 1909 (over five years after Kitty Hawk—a gap Yolen finds “fascinating,” but never explains) gives his debut a rousing finish, several of his full-page, strong-figured paintings are more individual works than part of a larger whole. In the end, this wastes its unusual angle to tell essentially the same story as Wendie Old’s To Fly (2002) and Elizabeth Van Steenwyck’s One Fine Day (p. 67) and a half-dozen other similar biographies celebrating the centennial. For a better treatment of Katharine’s story, see The Wright Sister, by Richard Maurer (above). (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-316-97159-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2003




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