Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

First to Fly: How Wilbur and Orville Wright Invented the Airplane

First to Fly: How Wilbur and Orville Wright Invented the Airplane

Peter Busby
Illustrator:  David Craig 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 and up
Crown Publishers, 2003   ISBN: 978-0375812873

It is hard to imagine a world without the airplane. These extraordinary machines shape our lives in so many ways. They also shaped the lives of two remarkable and visionary young men. The Wright brothers came from a happy and lively family. Their mother encouraged their tendency to tinker with and take apart machines. It really could not have been a surprise to anyone that the brothers ended up running and owning a store that built and repaired bicycles. The brothers were soon able to pursue their boyhood interest in "the problem of mechanical and human flight."

They began simply, working with kites and then moving up to gliders. The brothers understood that they had to fully understand the physical concepts of flight before they could build a flying machine. Once they had a glider that worked they tried putting a man in one and soon they had achieved this goal. From there they added a small engine to the equation. What the author of this attractive book gives his readers is a very personal look into the personalities of the Wright brothers. They were quiet and determined, unwilling to give up when things went wrong. There were numerous crashes and setbacks which could very easily have put these young men off, and yet they kept on going, always hopeful that they would one day succeed in their efforts to build a flying machine.

Filled with wonderful photographs, illustrations, and full-page paintings, this is a truly impressive tribute to the Wright brothers and their extraordinary achievements.