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Who were those daring young men in the first flying machines? Krensky (Lionel in the Summer ,1998, etc.) offers a well-researched overview of both the lives of the Wright brothers and the early development of flight worldwide, in this addition to the Ready-to-Read series, written at the third-grade reading level. He describes the early kites and gliders built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, shows the young men at work in their bicycle shop in Dayton, and details their dangerous experiments at Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills on the coast of North Carolina. Direct quotations attributed to the Wrights are all from their letters of the period, showing the author’s careful research using primary sources. Simplified explanations of a few basic aerodynamic concepts are woven into the text, and other pioneers of early flight are mentioned, including Sir George Cayley, Otto Lilienthal, and Samuel Langley, as well as Daedalus and Icarus from Greek mythology. Two minor caveats are a glaring typo (to be corrected in the next printing) and an illustration showing a cigar-smoking mechanic working on the Wrights’ first gasoline engine (a clear safety violation in today’s world, though a mechanic might not have known gasoline was flammable in 1903, when it was a new fuel). Attractive, realistic watercolor illustrations on almost every page elevate the text and recreate the miracle of early flight, with the cover showing one of the Wrights clinging to the controls and truly flying by the seat of his pants. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-81225-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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PLB 0-531-33140-7 Ketcham’s first book is based on an allegedly true story of a childhood incident in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. It starts with a couple of pages regaling the Bach home and all the Johanns in the family, who made their fame through music. After his father’s death, Johann Sebastian goes to live with his brother, Johann Christoph, where he boasts that he is the best organist in the world. Johann Christoph contradicts him: “Old Adam Reincken is the best.” So Johann Sebastian sets out to hear the master himself. In fact, he is humbled to tears, but there is hope that he will be the world’s best organist one day. Johann Sebastian emerges as little more than a brat, Reincken as more of a suggestion than a character. Bush’s illustrations are most transporting when offering details of the landscape, but his protagonist is too impish to give the story much authority. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30140-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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Adler (also with Widener, Lou Gehrig, 1997, etc.) sets his fictional story during the week of July 14, 1932, in the Bronx, when the news items that figure in this tale happened. A boy gets a dime for his birthday, instead of the bicycle he longs for, because it is the Great Depression, and everyone who lives in his neighborhood is poor. While helping his friend Jacob sell newspapers, he discovers that his own father, who leaves the house with a briefcase each day, is selling apples on Webster Avenue along with the other unemployed folk. Jacob takes the narrator to Yankee Stadium with the papers, and people don’t want to hear about the Coney Island fire or the boy who stole so he could get something to eat in jail. They want to hear about Babe Ruth and his 25th homer. As days pass, the narrator keeps selling papers, until the astonishing day when Ruth himself buys a paper from the boy with a five-dollar bill and tells him to keep the change. The acrylic paintings bask in the glow of a storied time, where even row houses and the elevated train have a warm, solid presence. The stadium and Webster Avenue are monuments of memory rather than reality in a style that echoes Thomas Hart Benton’s strong color and exaggerated figures. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201378-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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