Wednesday, July 15, 2020

WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: A Review and a Giveaway

Congratulations to Jo Lynn Worden who won Will You Be My Friend? from last week's blog.

I have received a number of picture books from publishers recently, so if you love picture books...stay tuned!

WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson (Calkins Creek, 2020) is a picture book biography that will entertain and educate elementary school readers. Because of its historicity and accessible language, I think it could also be useful for reluctant readers in middle school classrooms. You will find a teacher's guide here and a hands-on engineering activity here.


REVIEW

"To Emma Lilian Todd, problems were like gusts of wind: they set her mind soaring. 

Sometimes the problems seemed small, like where to find metal cans to craft her inventions. (Solution: she saved tin cans from her supper.)

But soon Lilian's challenges ballooned." 

In this way, the author immediately invites the reader to see Emma's character and conflicts. The time period is invoked on the cover illustration, promising readers the type of story they will find within the covers. 

Early in the book, the reader discovers that Lilian's role model was her grandfather, who invented his own carriage wheel. Like him, she also whittled and fiddled and dreamed of inventing something useful. (Hooray for great family role models!)




Her first invention was a weather vane that she made out of a broken toy and Christmas ball from their tree.

It worked!

One day she took apart a clock and enjoyed the challenge of putting it back together again. (sounds like Benjamin Banneker, doesn't it?).  Her mother encouraged her by making sure she had the tools she needed. (Hooray for great mothers!)



Since inventing things wasn't women's work at the end of the nineteenth century, Lilian worked at the U.S. Patent Office, typing up plans for new machines. "While Lilian's fingers raced across the keys, she constructed each contraption in her mind."



Pretty soon, she was working on creating blueprints for her own fantastic flying machines. After long days of typing, she built small airships in her Manhatten apartment. 

In 1908 she read about the Wright brothers flying machine in which the operator had to lie flat. She wanted to build a machine that was operated by a woman who would swing in a basket from a balloon below the machine. Lilian studied birds and pretty soon airplanes took over her apartment and her life. 




Lilian experienced many failures but she learned from each one. She was mocked by men but in 1908 she wrote, "they admit that my ideas are all right and that a full sized aeroplane built in accordance with these same despised models will fly---which is the principal thing after all, isn't it?"

One of the richest women in the world at the time, Olivia Sage, provided much needed financial support. Lilian found a space to assemble her design, she hired men to build it and bought supplies. 
Although she experienced many set-backs, in November 1910, she watched from the ground as the pilot took off in the air. 



I doubt Emma Lilian Todd envisioned the future of flying which included her own contribution, but she looked forward to "driving" an aeroplane at some point. That same year her plane successfully got up in the air, she wrote, "There is no work so exasperating, so delightful, so mean, so difficult, so exhilarating, as building aeroplanes..." 

Although I found this picture on Wikipedia, it is unclear if Lilian ever flew the plane herself. What is clear, is that she was the first woman to design a successful airplane on her own. 

http://f8.ifotki.info/org/458d57edd9d32c491cc269fd8ceb012c558d8f92112654.jpg



I believe this is a much-needed story of determination and perseverance. The next generation--girls and boys--needs role models of adults who do not easily give up and diligently work to fulfill their dreams. The detailed illustrations by Tracy Subisak complement the text beautifully. Teachers and home school educators will appreciate the endnotes showing the early days of airplanes, as well as the extensive bibliography. 



GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment (with your email address if you are new to my blog) by Friday, July 17 at 5 PM if you would like to enter this drawing. As usual, if you become a new subscriber or share on social media, I'll add your name twice--but make sure you tell me what you do! U.S. addresses only. 



23 comments:

Unknown said...

This books looks like it would be a great addition to my small school elementary/middle school library. I'm always looks for books about women who have done things out of the ordinary. Great for women's history month, inventions units, etc. I would love to win it. Thanks for reviewing.

Gwen Porter

Connie Porter Saunders said...

I agree with Gwen--this book can be used to focus on so many different school studies. Thanks for sharing and I shared this post on Twitter & Facebook.
Connie
cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda Phillips said...

As a former middle school teacher I can easily see how this unique book could be a fun resource for a science lesson or a whole unit on scientific inquiry. Thanks for a great review, Carol.

Carol Baldwin said...

I hadn't even thought about using the book for scientific inquiry! Good idea, LInda. You three start my list!

Cathy Ogren said...

This sounds like a fascinating book with lots of possibilities for sharing and learning! Thanks, Carol!

I shared this on twitter @CathySOgren

Danielle H. said...

I've seen this exciting book before a while ago and forgot about it. Please enter my name to win a review copy. Thank you!

Carol Baldwin said...

Glad to enter your names, Cathy and Danielle.

Jana Leah B said...

My niece will love this one. Thanks for the giveaway!
turtle6422 at gmail dot com

Susan Wroble said...

I am delighted to have discovered your blog, and loved reading about Wood, Wire, Wings. Please enter my name (and I re-Tweeted). Thanks so much!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Jana Leah. And I'm glad you discovered my blog, Susan. I give away lots of books!

Barbara Younger said...

Just ordered! I'm going to read it myself and then send it to my granddaughters. Love the art. Plan to study it!

Carol Baldwin said...

Fantastic, Barbara!

Grannyjo said...

Love all things historical. Liked your comments about role models and determination. This would be a wonderful gift to the inquisitive child in your life.

Carol Baldwin said...

You are absolutely right, Jo Lynn!

Melissa Miles said...

This looks great! I'm working on a PB biography now. I've subscribed to your blog and I'm sharing the contest on Twitter.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Melissa. Glad to have you stop by! I hope you'll decide to subscribe to my blog. I have a few other biographies I'll be giving away as soon as I can get around to writing the reviews! Thanks for sharing on Twitter also.

Kirsten Larson said...

Thank you all for your interest! For educators, I have a teacher's guide on my website, along with an engineering design activity students can participate in. I love using this book to talk about the NGSS Engineering Design Process, as well as the writing process, which is so, so similar.

Kirsten Larson said...

Ah, and my website is kirsten-w-larson.com

Jennifer M said...

This book has been on my "to read" list for so long. I am excited to read it and be able to share it with my students. Thank you for sharing your writing gift with others.
JMerrifield@falmouthschools.org

Carol Baldwin said...

Jennifer, thanks for stopping by and leaving your email address. You're in!

Delaney Shae-Ireland said...

Love this so much! I shared.

Ellison329@gmail.com

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Delaney. You're in twice!

Rosi said...

This book is getting a lot of buzz. It looks great. I love the illustrations. Thanks for the post.

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