FIRST TO FLY by Peter Busby


How Wilbur and Orville Wright Invented the Airplane
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 12
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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 11th, 2003
ISBN: 0-375-81287-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2002


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