Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies by Adam Hancher

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Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies by Adam Hancher

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A perfectly commendable retelling of the Wright brothers' story, with both very pleasant imagery and simple text for the under-nines.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781847809285

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Flight. It happens all around us, wherever we may be, and many are the young audience members for this book who have taken to the air already. But it was once something impossible to take for granted, and this book easily takes us back to those days. It presents us with danger, determination, and a certain pair of American brothers going all out to get both their names in the history books and their feet in the skies…

It's a well-known tale, of how two industrial brains in the same family combined to be pioneers of manned powered flight well over a hundred years ago now, but one that needs hearing, whatever your age. And this hardback just-beyond-picture-book is a great way of doing it. It leaves out all the physics, beyond the decision the Wright brothers made to need flexible wings, in favour of the personal story, showing the arc of their success, with all their failures and successes along the (run)way.

The book is presented very well – I loved the colour scheme of the pictures here, whether the images are three smaller cameos on a page with paragraphs next to them, or huge double spreads of Orville and Wilbur at work. They look cartoonish for sure – there's certainly a Tintinesque feel when one Wright brother glides over the other, himself running to catch up with the airborne craft as other witnesses get left behind. But they look perfectly appropriate. And when the simple text has passed (there's seldom fifty words per page, if that), and the Statue of Liberty herself has had to gawp at flying machines, we get a full page text of the full historical data, that serves the adult or educator more than the target reader but was just what the doctor ordered.

And in fact, finding the exact thing I was after happened several times here. Across the pages is a diverse selection of Wright aircraft, in different configurations. Here is the scale of the beasts concerned, as well as the pure wonder of it all. And here too is a handful of reasons why Kitty Hawk was actually chosen as launching ground in the first place – something that had never even crossed my mind before. So for being perfectly easy on the eye, thoughtfully constructed to get the young empathising with the determined scientists, and for telling me something I didn't know I didn't know, this has to go down as a fine book.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

File next to Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle by John Abbott Nez – a very similar book with a very similar story, except for how well-known it is. Getting a bit closer to modern times, there is also Little People, Big Dreams: Amelia Earhart by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Mariadiamantes.

Buy Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies by Adam Hancher at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies by Adam Hancher at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies by Adam Hancher at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies by Adam Hancher at Amazon.com.


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