Fascinating, eminently entertaining, and sometimes frustrating.

Oh, “those magnificent men in their flying machines”!

National Book Award winner Sandler explores one brief but momentous week in the early history of aviation. Only about six years after the Wright brothers achieved their first 57-second flight, pilots from around the world gathered in Rheims, France, in August 1909 for the Champagne Region’s Great Aviation Week (Grande Semaine d’Aviation de la Champagne). It was the first international air meet. Although the Wrights chose not to participate, the U.S. was well represented by Glenn Curtiss, whose limited experience matched that of other so-called veteran pilots of the era. They would all compete in their remarkably flimsy wood-and-fabric machines for a variety of large cash prizes, in the process captivating immense crowds and advancing aviation technology. The races are presented in thrilling detail and clearly placed in the context of the history of early aviation. A large collection of outstanding period photographs extends the tale. Unfortunately, in the midst of excellence, numerous additional topics, all about two pages long, are wedged in, nearly always interrupting the narrative midsentence—an annoying design flaw in this otherwise fine work. A final section provides a “postscript” of the lives, some sadly brief, of the aviators, mostly white and European, who participated at Rheims.

Fascinating, eminently entertaining, and sometimes frustrating. (further reading, websites, museums, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0344-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020




If Freedman wrote the history textbooks, we would have many more historians. Beginning with an engrossing description of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he brings the reader the lives of the American colonists and the events leading up to the break with England. The narrative approach to history reads like a good story, yet Freedman tucks in the data that give depth to it. The inclusion of all the people who lived during those times and the roles they played, whether small or large are acknowledged with dignity. The story moves backwards from the Boston Tea Party to the beginning of the European settlement of what they called the New World, and then proceeds chronologically to the signing of the Declaration. “Your Rights and Mine” traces the influence of the document from its inception to the present ending with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The full text of the Declaration and a reproduction of the original are included. A chronology of events and an index are helpful to the young researcher. Another interesting feature is “Visiting the Declaration of Independence.” It contains a short review of what happened to the document in the years after it was written, a useful Web site, and a description of how it is displayed and protected today at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. Illustrations from the period add interest and detail. An excellent addition to the American history collection and an engrossing read. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1448-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000




An introduction to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings. The authors begin with how archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, then move back 3,000 years to the time of Thutmosis I, who built the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Finally they describe the building of the tomb of a later Pharaoh, Ramses II. The backward-forward narration is not always easy to follow, and the authors attribute emotions to the Pharaohs without citation. For example, “Thutmosis III was furious [with Hatshepsut]. He was especially annoyed that she planned to be buried in KV 20, the tomb of her father.” Since both these people lived 3,500 years ago, speculation on who was furious or annoyed should be used with extreme caution. And the tangled intrigue of Egyptian royalty is not easily sorted out in so brief a work. Throughout, though, there are spectacular photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts, monuments, tomb paintings, jewels, and death masks that will appeal to young viewers. The photographs of the exposed mummies of Ramses II, King Tut, and Seti I are compelling. More useful for the hauntingly beautiful photos than the text. (brief bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7223-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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