Plenty to Read about Wrights

Article excerpt

Byline: Brandy Hilboldt Allport, The Times-Union

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight, publishers outdid themselves with biographical accounts of Orville and Wilbur and history of flight compendiums. Today's column highlights three of the best offerings for the elementary and middle school crowd.

NUTS AND BOLTS: If you're looking for a succinct overview of the Wright brothers' quest, choose The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start by Elizabeth MacLeod (Kids Can Press, $6.95; ages 6 to 12). It includes photographs, a timeline of Orville and Wilbur's efforts and an overall timeline of the history of flight.

The 32-page book is well-designed and serves as an accessible primer, a good starting place to look at the broad picture of the Wright brothers. Begin at the beginning with A Flying Start, and then connect to other flight books for more detailed information.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES SUPPORT: The Wrights were a close family, and Wilbur and Orville often credited their younger sister, Katherine, with their success. Though she wasn't with them when first they flew in North Carolina, Katherine was involved with her brothers' projects, constantly providing support and encouragement for their necessary and endless rounds of testing and problem solving.

Award-winning author Jane Yolen researched Katherine as the basis for My Brothers' Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville and Me (Little, Brown and Co., $16.95; ages 6 and older). The story, told through the eyes of an admiring and supportive sister, adds a new dimension to the Wright brothers story. It's illustrated with oil paintings by James Burke. All the information and dialogue in the picture book are based on letters, articles, interviews and diary entries. In her note to readers, Yolen sites sources, providing readers with more books to consider including Visions of a Flying Machine: The Wright Brothers and the Process of Invention by Peter L. Jakab and The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman.

PROVIDING PERSPECTIVE: Peter Busby's book, First to Fly: How Wilbur & Orville Wright Invented the Airplane is a well-executed hybrid of today's first two selections. …