Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Flyers

The Flyers

Allan Drummond
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003   ISBN: 978-0374324100

A little boy and his friends love to run down the sand dunes pretending that they can fly. They want to be the first people who will ever fly in the air. Then they start watching two very odd men who have come to Kitty Hawk to "fly their crazy kites." The men, two brothers called Orville and Wilbur Wright, have made a kite that is big enough for a man to ride in. These two brothers dream of making a machine that will fly anywhere. They say that the important thing is to be able to build a machine that they can "take off in, land, control, and steer." Then they also have to add an engine to this equation to give the machine power.

The children each talk about their flying dreams. One boy dreams of being able to bomb the "Macy gang's hideout" with "rocks and water bombs" to give them a real fright. Another wants to fly to Africa. The boy who is telling the story, thinks of building a huge flying bus that would carry lots of people all over the world. The smallest child in the group imagines flying all the way to the moon.

Then the real story of what happened to the Wright brothers and their famous machine (which called The Flyer) is told. We can watch the events that took place on that historic day, moment by moment, until we get to that incredible instant when The Flyer left the ground. Then we see Orville aloft, frozen in time, just as he was in a famous photograph that was taken on that day on December 17th 1903 one hundred years ago.

This is a wonderful book for a young child as it takes one into the events at Kitty Hawk as seen through the eyes of a small child. This gives the events a significance that the very young can understand. The ink and watercolor illustrations are light, easy on the eye, and again appeal to the younger reader. At the same time, the listener or reader is not talked down to, and the gentle humor gives the book a delightful warm feel.