cover image Fly!: A Brief History of Flight Illustrated

Fly!: A Brief History of Flight Illustrated

Barry Moser. Willa Perlman Books, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-022893-4

For renowned illustrator Moser, this picture book is an ``excuse to make pictures of airplanes again.'' The subjects of 16 large paintings include the planes of famous aviators (Lindbergh, Earhart) and significant aircrafts (the first jet), and range from the Mongolfier brothers' balloon of 1783 to today's space shuttle. A brief text accompanies each of the pictures, and a time line runs across the bottom of each page, putting the aeronautical achievements into historical perspective. As a beautiful, avowedly nostalgic album of Moser's favorite planes, this picture book soars. As nonfiction, it stalls. Located in the last third of the book and accompanied by 24 smaller paintings, extensive historical notes highlight the significance of the main text's entries, but lack needed facts. For example, while the Navy's SBD-3 sparks the comment that the Battle of the Coral Sea had ``grave and profound ramifications'' for naval aviation, these consequences are never elaborated upon. Similarly, ``the mathematical principles of flight--lift, drag, and thrust'' are mentioned but not explained. Aviation enthusiasts, child and adult, will doubtless enjoy looking at the realistic watercolors and browsing through the historical snippets, but more useful information can be found in such books as the Eyewitness Flying Machine . Ages 6-up. (Sept.)