FIRST TO FLY

HOW WILBUR AND ORVILLE WRIGHT INVENTED THE AIRPLANE

A lavishly illustrated picture book joins archival material, diagrams, and original paintings to tell the story of how the Wright brothers invented the airplane. The text briefly covers their lives before Kitty Hawk, focusing narrowly on the period from 1899 to 1903 as they experimented and refined their designs in pursuit of a self-propelled flying machine. The sprightly, lucid text takes the brothers back and forth from their Dayton, Ohio, bicycle shop to Kitty Hawk, quoting from their letters and from the recollections of witnesses to give a terrific sense of immediacy. Sidebars and diagrams explain the various innovations the brothers tried: from the wing and rudder controls on the actual Flyers to the wind tunnel they built in their workshop to test aerodynamics. One further chapter and an epilogue detail the brothers’ activities subsequent to that history-making flight: their efforts to patent and market their invention and the founding of the Wright Company, which designed aircraft for both military and civilian uses. Busby’s text, his first for children, deftly combines technical detail with narrative thrust; Jack McMaster’s diagrams complement the technical descriptions beautifully, while Craig’s (Attack on Pearl Harbor, not reviewed) lush oils add dramatic flair. One significant flaw is that many of the primary sources are quoted blind, with no indication in the text or back matter where the observations came from (a stellar exception to this is the citation of Orville’s letters home from Kitty Hawk). Two pages of back matter provide a chronology, select glossary, bibliography (which includes books for younger and older readers as well as Web sites), picture credits, and index. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 11, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-81287-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

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BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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