Who were those daring young men in the first flying machines? Krensky (Lionel in the Summer ,1998, etc.) offers a well-researched overview of both the lives of the Wright brothers and the early development of flight worldwide, in this addition to the Ready-to-Read series, written at the third-grade reading level. He describes the early kites and gliders built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, shows the young men at work in their bicycle shop in Dayton, and details their dangerous experiments at Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills on the coast of North Carolina. Direct quotations attributed to the Wrights are all from their letters of the period, showing the author’s careful research using primary sources. Simplified explanations of a few basic aerodynamic concepts are woven into the text, and other pioneers of early flight are mentioned, including Sir George Cayley, Otto Lilienthal, and Samuel Langley, as well as Daedalus and Icarus from Greek mythology. Two minor caveats are a glaring typo (to be corrected in the next printing) and an illustration showing a cigar-smoking mechanic working on the Wrights’ first gasoline engine (a clear safety violation in today’s world, though a mechanic might not have known gasoline was flammable in 1903, when it was a new fuel). Attractive, realistic watercolor illustrations on almost every page elevate the text and recreate the miracle of early flight, with the cover showing one of the Wrights clinging to the controls and truly flying by the seat of his pants. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-81225-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Going back to contemporary sources, Kerby retraces the travels of a stray terrier who became the semi-official mascot of the U.S. Postal Service in the 1890s and who, aboard ship and train, escorted mailbags to hundreds of destinations around the world. She sticks largely to facts—finding that accounts of how he got his name differ, she doesn’t try to explain its origin, for instance—but does tuck in occasional invented details to smooth the narrative. Although the text notes that his preserved body is still on display at the U.S. Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., it neglects to mention that he met his end by violence. Ever alert and sporting a harness increasingly covered in tags attached at his many stopovers, the small dog makes an engaging centerpiece in Barasch’s watercolor sketches. His tale has been told several times for younger audiences, most recently in Irene Kelly’s A Small Dog’s Big Life (2005); still, dog lovers will lap up this latest iteration. (photos, research note, sources) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 7, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-35685-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).


A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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