Monday, March 23, 2015

Dad's Book Review: The Wright Brothers by Russell Freedman

Hey out there, blogosphere! Yes, I'm still slacking on my blog. Ahem. I know the other working moms out there will understand me when I say that this is the only part of my life I can slack on and get away with it. I'm looking forward to coming back to personal blogging more regularly once my term managing The Hub ends later this year-- until then, busy busy busy! 

A lot has happened since I was in the habit of posting more regularly... I've moved from teen services back to children's services, and am heading up the children's department at my wonderful library. It's an exciting change for me! My kids are now ages 4 and 6, and the oldest will be going into first grade this Fall. Surreal! And I've taken up running, of all things-- I never thought I could be a runner, but I've found it incredibly empowering and liberating. 

I hope to be back with lots of recommendations for children's and YA audiobooks to enjoy while running, but until then, my dad is bailing me out of blog slackerhood once again! He shared with me his thoughts on Newbery Honor book The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman, and I'd like to share his very thoughtful review with you. Here's dad! 

Freedman, Russell. The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane. 129 p. 1991. Holiday House. Hardcover $21.04. ISBN 9780823410828.

In school I learned that the Wright Brothers flew the first manned and powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903 but not much more.  Who were Wilbur and Orville Wright?  What was their life like?  What was the state of flight was when they started their work in 1899?  

This book answers those questions and includes ninety-four photographs, many taken by the Wright brothers.  The photographs are placed in a way which adds to the story and invites thoughtful viewing.  The story starts with an eye witness account of a Wright brothers' flight.  At the time people simply could not believe in flight unless they saw it themselves.  The Wright brothers' stunning achievement of manned flight is the first great invention completely documented by photographs.

The Wright Brothers were inspired and brilliant but behind their success was a methodical and careful progression of flight experiments.  Many had attempted human flight before and all failed.  Even they had many failures.  Wilbur Wright wrote that flight would not be a reality "... in our lifetime" but they continued their work.  Before the Wright Brothers no one had designed effective, controllable wing surfaces or used a wind tunnel to test wing structures.  Many of their ideas and discoveries were original and enduring.  They would instantly recognize many of the features of modern aircraft.  The Wright Brothers introduced the world to the Age of Flight.

I recommend this book without reservation.  The author brings the Wright brothers' story to life in a way that makes it real and shows how their inventions and ideas endure to this day.  The world has been deeply changed by the invention of human flight.  Your time will be well spent feeling the excitement and learning the story of these early years of aeronautical invention. The Wright brothers' story waited 110 years for me to discover.  Don't wait, get this book and read it.  There certainly are dreams yet to dream and inventions to be made.  This story might encourage you to invent your own.


  1. I loved reading this book and lent it to a friend and never got it back. I wish I had never lent it out. It was fun to visit Kitty Hawk, NC after reading this book and see a lot of the historical artifacts associated with the history of flight.

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  2. This book is written with precision and detail. Yet, since it is aimed at young readers, it is clear and easy to read. The author explains in simple, easily understood language, the seminal inventions of the Wright Brothers. It is an excellent book for any adult who wants to truly understand how the Wright Brothers invented the airplane. I would recommend it to any person over the age of 12.

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