________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 13 . . . . February 28, 2003


First to Fly: How Wilbur & Orville Wright Invented the Airplane.

Peter Busby. Paintings by David Craig. Diagrams by Jack McMaster.
Markham, ON: Madison Press Books/Scholastic Canada, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 0-439-98794-6.

Subject Headings:
Wright, Orville, 1871-1948-Juvenile literature.
Wright, Wilbur, 1867-Juvenile literature.
Aeronautics-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4


In the final week, Wilbur had the confidence to fly again and this time he would try free flight, without the ropes. Altogether, he made about a dozen glides between 220 feet (61 m) and 300 feet (91 m) in length. On October 23, they went home, leaving the glider behind on the dunes. During the winter, it would be destroyed by the savage Atlantic gales – all except for the sateen wing covering. A few days after they left, Mrs. Tate removed the material and made it into dresses for her daughters.

internal art

First to Fly documents the enormous accomplishment of the Wright Brothers in creating the first plane which actually flew. December 17, 2003, is the hundredth anniversary of their flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This is the author’s first book for children, and it is highly readable and appealing account of how Wilbur and Orville pursued their passion for aviation. The brothers owned a bicycle shop in Dayton and, at the turn of the century, became interested in the new “craze” of flying. Unlike other aviation inventors, the Wrights first worked on designing a glider which could be controlled in the air. They tested a number of models at Kitty Hawk, a locale chosen for its windiness and sand dunes (for softer crashes!) Then they were ready to invent a plane with an engine and propellers – the 1903 Wright Flyer. The excitement of their first flight is vividly evoked, and the author carefully explains the principles of flight so that their achievement is fully understood. Later the Wrights were hailed as “The First Heroes of the New Century.”

     This large format book is written at an easier reading level than Russell Freedman’s The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane (Holiday House, 1991). And children will find it more attractive than Steve Parker’s The Wright Brothers and Aviation (Chelsea House, 1995), which covers much of the same material but in a pedestrian style. Like Elizabeth MacLeod’s The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start (Kids Can, 2002), Busby’s book is a handsome volume with high appeal for the browser as well as the child working on a project. First to Fly is filled with photographs, illustrated sidebars with aviation information, and full colour paintings by David Craig. The artist is highly skilled at creating images of the most dramatic moments, and he previously illustrated Shelley Tanaka’s Attack on Pearl Harbor (Hyperion Press, 2001).

     Busby has created an exemplary work of nonfiction, and it also includes a time line, web sites of interest, a glossary of aviation terms and an index. This title is sure to be very popular in library collections and is highly recommended.

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.