The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont held the attention of both my niece and nephew, which really surprised me. I thought the text would be too lengthy to hold my nephew's attention, but this story is surprisingly engaging, and he made it to the end.
My niece has enough education under her belt now, that she was able to stop me halfway through the book and say, "wait a minute. Did this guy live at the same time as those brothers? Who were they again?" That question, which is answered in the end matter of this book, allows parents or teachers to really explore the question of who flew first (really, not such a cut-and-dried issue as American history courses would have one believe).
Ultimately, Alberto Santos-Dumont took his own life, and the kids and I were able to discuss this issue as well, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily, to paraphrase my friend Chandra
, the kids were able to see this issue in shades of grey. This story has a lot of meat to chew on, and parents and teachers could use this book to open up all sorts of conversations with their children.
In addition to the story, I really liked the pictures in this book. They reminded me of the Impressionist paintings
that were being done in France at the time of Alberto Santos-Dumont's life. Really an interesting book, that grows on me the more I look at it.