Book Review: Into the Air

Reading Level

Ages 4-8

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The subtitle of this book has the real information, and the title and subtitle together describe what type of book this really is.

On the surface, Into the Air: An Illustrated Timeline of Flight looks to be a standard examination of how we got to the Wright Brothers and what has been happened since. However, this book is MUCH more than that. This book can be read and appreciated by readers of ALL ages, even adults!

The artwork and main text refer to general events in the history of flight, beginning with the flight of animals long before man arrived on Earth. Each subsequent step in the history of flight is presented with bold strokes, both art and word, so that even the youngest readers can follow the events as they unfold. But the real genius of the book lies in the material for older readers.

Each presentation of information is accompanied by a selection of events, complete with dates and descriptions. These vignettes offer information so detailed that adults and even flight scholars are likely to learn a lot. In this way, the book functions as a learning experience for whoever reads it. A parent reading the book to his or her child can appreciate the simple language and beautiful artwork that is helping the child learn; at the same time, the father or mother can appreciate the beauty of the information presented on the timeline.

This book has several nice touches as well:

  • The first discussion is of dragonflies, which are referenced again in the epilogue.
  • The book reads like a biology book, then a history book, then an aviation book.
  • A section on the future of flight speculates on the speed and size of future airplanes and the viability of plane travel to the Moon

Sometimes obscure flight references are examined, including

  • the story of the Persian king Kavus, who was said to have trained four eages to carry his throne aloft
  • Eilmer of Malmesbury, a monk who donned wings and jumped off a tower, only to find that his flight ended in two broken legs
  • Jeanne Labrosse's being the first woman to pilot a balloon

All in all, this is an excellent way to learn about flight and its past, present, and future. Pick it up!

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David White