I am very happy to report that I have finally finished The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman. This was my one and only read for last month’s Newbery Through the Decades challenge, and it took me way too long to finish it. This is mainly due to the fact that I usually only read at bedtime these days, and bedtime comes too late for me to read for more than ten or fifteen minutes. (Many nights it is more like five minutes before I have to turn off my lamp.) With short chapters–most are around ten pages–and lots and lots of photographs, this book makes a wonderful overview of how the Wright brothers invented the airplane. Freedman’s prose is straightforward and easy to understand. I think my nine year old, in particular, would enjoy this one, though I think it makes a fine introduction to the famous brothers even for an interested adult. There are plenty of physics-related details, too, though not so much that I completely lost the narrative thread. 😉 It is amazing to me that these men (and many others) literally devoted their lives to their inventions, but I suppose that’s what makes them inventors and me not an inventor. I, for one, tend to prefer reading more about the personality behind the famous face, and this book does provide a very small peek into that, too. I was also surprised to learn that neither Orville nor Wilbur completed their formal high school educations; in fact, the only person in their family who went to college was their sister. They were an incredibly close family; I daresay they might even be considered odd today. I wouldn’t say much about their lives really grabbed me emotionally (which is something I really enjoy in a book), but I was touched by what their father wrote about Wilbur when he suddenly and very premaaturely died after contracting typhoid: ” ‘A short life, full of consequences.’ ” I’m glad I read this one and give it a Highly Recommended for interested parties. I’m eager now to read more of Russell Freedman’s books. (Holiday House, 1991)
(Not to be misleading–but reading this book made me think of the Quick Plane, which you can see at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.)
I was also reminded of these two picture books that I had to dig deep into the archives to find. I can’t wait to share these with the DLM!
- The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provenson
- The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont