Sunday, September 28, 2008

Children's Book Monday

My Brothers' Flying Machine; Wilbur, Orville and Me
by Jane Yolen
Paintings by Jim Burke

This book, another gem by the incomparable Jane Yolen, is based on the true story of Orville and Wilbur Wright and their little sister, Katherine. Orville himself said, "When the world speaks of the Wrights, it must include our sister. Much of our effort has been inspired by her." So this story begins.

It is told in the person of Katherine, and she describes watching her brothers' fascination with a little flying machine they toss back and forth together, marveling at it's structure, fixing it when it is broken, tinkering "till the toy worked better than when Papa first brought it home."

Katherine is their greatest cheerleader, and when Mama dies of tuberculosis, Katherine keeps house, makes the meals, and even after graduating from college and working as a teacher, continues to give her brothers applause. The brothers ran a print shop, then a bicycle shop. The brothers are described in great detail, and Will's habit of wearing mismatching socks brought a smile to Micah's face, for he often finds himself in the same situation!

When the young men begin to experiment with aircraft, Kathrine follows their every move through letters they sent to her nearly every day; when they are successful, the worlds was never the same.

A note from the author at the end of the book states that all the incidents from the book have been well-documented, and that every word stated by either of the Wright Brothers and Katherine comes from letters, articles, interviews, or diary entries. It is such fun to go back and re-read a book once you know that it is really historically accurate- my boys especially think so!

We learned many things about this family that we did not know before, such as the fact that Orville actually made a printing press out of Katherine's old baby buggy he had found in the barn- and it could print a thousand pages an hour! These boys/young men were not just creative with airplanes!

This book is a delightful addition to your reading hours- and you'll learn a lot, too!

Happy Reading!

5 fellow travelers shared:

Joy said...

This is one of my goals for the fall...you've inspired me to really explore the library, and we've found so many gems!

Cathy said...

Our daughter (now a high school sophomore) was Katherine during American Hero Day many years ago! I love teaching our children about heroes who worked "behind the scenes" -- sometimes those are the best kind of all!

The Small Scribbler said...

We've been doing a great deal of reading on the Wright brothers as we will be headed to Kitty Hawk in the next month. I have not seen this book before. I bet my youngest would love it. Thanks for the recommendation.

Kate

Anna said...

Elise,
I love children's picture books that are historically accurate! I wish there were more of them around. I hadn't heard of this one. Thanks!
~Anna

Karly said...

Wow! This sounds soo cool! How often have you read a book that's written to be "historical," but then you can't tell the fact from the fiction? Then you just don't know what of it to believe. It's very cool that it's authentic. I'll have to check it out.
Thanks!

xoxo

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