CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 15 . . . .March 21, 2008
Flying High! (Canadian Flyer Adventures; 5).
Frieda Wishinsky. Illustrated by Dean Griffiths.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2007.
83 pp., pbk. & hc., $6.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897066-99-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897066-98-0 (hc.).
Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922, Juvenile fiction.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.
George glanced at his watch. "It’s almost three o’clock. When will the Dart fly?"
For the last hour the children had watched as Douglas McCurdy checked and rechecked every part of the airplane.
"What’s he waiting for?" asked Matt.
A few minutes later they knew. A horse-drawn sleigh drove up, and out climbed Alexander Graham Bell dressed in a large furry coat. He marched over to McCurdy and put his arm around the young flyer.
"Are you ready?" Bell asked.
Douglas nodded and pulled his stocking cap tight over his ears. He stepped into the airplane, sat down, and signaled. Eight men hurried over to hold the airplane steady.
The clocks turn back as the pages turn forward in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series. Emily Bing and Matt Martinez have access to dresser drawers that link them to the past and a red sled that can take them into the past. On their journeys backward through time, they meet the legendary people and attend the historical moments that helped make Canada the country that it is today. Flying High is the fifth book in the series. In this story, the sled takes Emily and Matt from their home town of Glenwood to Baddeck, NS, but when they land, the year is 1909 and they are in different clothing. They have arrived just in time to see the first powered flight in Canada. Tomorrow, on the frozen Bras D’Or Lake, Douglas McCurdy is going to fly Alexander Graham Bell’s Silver Dart airplane.
Besides documenting the flight with drawings and digital recording, Emily and Matt have other things they want do on this trip, too. They both want to meet Alexander Graham Bell, and Emily would like to use his telephone. But, because Emily and Matt only have the sled to transport them back and forth through time, they have to be cautious about where they store the sled and how it’s handled. This can be tricky when you have other things on your mind, and the two friends have had their heart-skipping moments with the sled. In Baddeck, they quickly find out the sled needs to be kept away from young flying enthusiast Ruby. Upon seeing the red sled for the first time, she almost breaks it!
Emily and Matt love opening the old dresser drawers. They are intelligent children who know a little about Canada’s history already, but, when they see the contents of the drawers, they want to learn even more about Canada’s past. Pulling out the wooden model of the Silver Dart one wintry morning, they start wondering and imagining the past, and with three rubs of the magical maple leaf on the sled, they are experiencing it all and more. They learn about Bell’s Boys; they meet Mabel Bell; and they get to see inside Bell’s mansion, Beinn Bhreagh. In the two days they are away from home, Emily and Matt accomplish all they set out to do and arrive safely back home. Back at the dresser, the model airplane now has more meaning for them - and a surprising picture beside it as well.
As they do after every trip, Emily and Matt write down their Top Ten Facts pertaining to the event they just witnessed. Emily’s number one fact is "Alexander Graham Bell’s mother, Eliza Grace Symonds, was deaf." Matt focuses on the Wright brothers for his first fact. He states "Orville and Wilbur Wright made the world’s first flight in a heavier-than-air machine on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawke, North Carolina." Four pages in total, these short one to four sentence Top Ten facts are interesting and sometimes surprising. There are two added features that come with these books as well. Teachers can find teacher’s guides for the books online, and children have a chance of winning the next book in the series. Explanations and further instructions are given at the end of the book.
In Flying High, the chapters are four to seven pages in length and have one to two black and white illustrations. The illustrations show the scenes we’d like to see. The airplane model, the real Silver Dart, Alexander Graham Bell, and the telephone are all revealed in this book. The illustrations give readers a sense of the time and a look at the clothing and surroundings of the period. Even some of the feelings of the day are depicted. In the illustration of the crowd watching the Silver Dart soaring through the air for the first time, the people look excited as they cheer and run after the airplane.
Frieda Wishinsky was born in Germany but grew up in New York. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, gardening and eating. A teacher for 23 years, Wishinsky is married with two children and lives in Toronto. Her books include Jennifer Jones Won’t Leave me Alone, Crazy for Chocolate, and Oonga Boonga, her first published picture book. Dean Griffiths, who lives in Duncan, BC, has worked as an animator, and some of his paintings can be found on greeting cards. Besides the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series, he has illustrated the books Only a Cow, The Lighthouse Dog and The Patchwork House.
History is now more readable thanks to this series. Facts are effortless to learn, and history is easier to understand because of Frieda Wishinsky’s writing and Dean Griffiths’ illustrations. Children will become fascinated with Canadian history after reading the books in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series. Emily and Matt will become synonymous with time travel and the envy of many seven to nine year old boys and girls. Wishinsky’s carefully researched stories are a fun way for children to connect with Canada’s past. Her stories turn the past into a discovery.
Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.
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