THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

HOW THEY INVENTED THE AIRPLANE

Using illuminating facts and incidents to place the story of this monumental achievement in the history of aeronautics and in the brothers' personal lives, Freedman focuses on the events that led to the first successful flight and on the Wrights' subsequent improvements on their invention. Diagrams and lucid explanations of the principles of flying make the years of tinkering, experimenting, reasoning, and problem-solving even more fascinating. Though Freedman doesn't characterize Wilbur and Orville in depth, he does provide telling glimpses of the two unmarried brothers devoting themselves to working enthusiastically and amiably together ("They tinkered and fussed and muttered to themselves from dawn to dusk," reported one observer, "...At no time did I ever hear either of them render a hasty or ill-considered answer..."). In Freedman's deceptively relaxed narrative, the facts themselves are disarming: e.g., the local postmaster helped to haul the planes back uphill, and the fire brigade came regularly to stand by. The brothers' own excellent photos, reproduced in a generous size, make an outstanding contribution to both format and authenticity; they're well supplemented with appropriate additional photos. Like Lincoln (Newbery Medal, 1988), this is familiar but retold in a manner so fresh and immediate that reading it is like discovering the material for the first time. (Nonfiction. 9+)

Pub Date: June 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-8234-0875-2

Page Count: 129

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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