THE FLYERS

Allan Drummond, Author, Allan Drummond, Illustrator . FSG/Foster $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-32410-0

It's 1903, and five children in Kitty Hawk, N.C., have a front-row seat as the Wright Brothers prepare for the first sustained self-powered flight. The aviation pioneers' work inspires each child to muse on the way he or she would make use of the seemingly magical ability to soar into the sky. Josie dreams of flying across the ocean, Davey wants to attack his foes in a winged war machine, Jamie conjures up the spitting image of a commercial airliner, and so on. Drummond's (Liberty!) visual signature—a lighter-than-air ink line and puffs of translucent watercolor—perfectly match the subject matter. His plentiful vignettes and large-scale illustrations capture both the effervescence of the children's daydreams and the determined intensity of Wilbur and Orville's preparations—which, of course, represent the fulfillment of their own dreams. Drummond applies his light touch to the text as well, narrating the historic lift-off with the elemental enthusiasm of a child: "And then the Flyer moved down into the wind, its engine roared, and the whole machine took off! Orville was at the controls and it really flew!" At the same time, he succinctly encapsulates the brothers' achievements (e.g., the narrator points out that the Wrights need "to make a flying machine that they can take off in, land, control, and steer"). Among the many books issued to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the flight at Kitty Hawk, this one stands out for its ability to harness the imagination of youngest readers and make it soar. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/25/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Children's
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