Miss Todd and Her Wonderful Flying Machine

Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee, illus. by Kristina Yee, Isona Rigau, and Nick Cooke. Compendium (APG, dist.), $18.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-938298-76-9
Based on the authors’ stop-motion animated short film, this story about Lily Todd, the first woman to design and build a plane, is illustrated with photographs of paper puppets in model sets. Growing up at the turn of the 20th century, Todd developed an early fascination with flight and, at her Grandpa Joe’s urging, learned everything she could through books and model-making. After Todd was rejected from universities because of her gender, philanthropist Olivia Sage gave her space to build a full-size flying machine. The photographed scenes dominate, sometimes divided into panels to graphic-novel-like effect. Skillful use of shadow and lighting gives the scenes theatricality, while the puppets themselves evoke powerful emotions. Despite the restrictions Todd faced, the collaborators emphasize her passion and perseverance: “When she was soaring high above the clouds, flying free with the wind in her hair, she knew that nothing could hold her down—not even gravity.” An invented scene in which Todd sneaks onto her plane after being denied the chance to fly it, which the book fails to identify as fiction, is the only strike against this richly imagined tribute. Ages 4–up. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/25/2015
Release date: 06/01/2015
Genre: Children's
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