Cover of My Brother's Flying Machine by Jane Yolen

My Brother’s Flying Machine

With the upcoming Wright Brothers anniversary, every publisher in the world was planning a book about them. One of my editors (a favorite) called and asked me to do a picture book about the dynamic duo. I said, “Not unless I can find a new way into the story.” So the next day I sat down with a gazillion books about the Wright Brothers (maybe a slight exaggeration‚ I do write fantasy, after all) and found out that the Wright Brothers had said of their sister that they would never have been able to do their work on the first airplane without her help and support. So there was my story! I called the editor at once, and she found a terrifically exciting young artist named Jim Burke. And the rest‚ if not history‚ was certainly book!

The book has won a 2004 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Best Book Award and a Parent’s Choice Award. It has also been awarded the 2004 Honor Book Massachusetts Book Award. It is one of the six contenders on the M. Jerry Weiss Book Award List for 2005. This award was established in 1994 by the New Jersey Reading Association (NJRA) to honor Dr. M. Jerry Weiss, distinguished service professor at New Jersey City University, and nationally known advocate for children’s literature. It was named one the Teachers’ Choices for 2004 by the International Reading Association’s journal, The Reading Teacher. And it was a New York State’s Charlotte Award nominee for 2006.

What reviewers have said:

  • “In this beautifully written and illustrated picture book Katherine Wright tells the story of her brothers’ fascination with flying and their determination in creating the first aeroplane. … A beautiful tribute to an admirable woman.” — KidsBookshelf
  • “In an accurate and entertaining effort to lure the young female audience into the Wright brothers’ saga, … Jane Yolen and Jim Burke offer Katharine’s perspective on what led to this milestone.” — New York Times
  • “Jane Yolen’s lyrical recount of the event told through the eyes of little sister Katherine. The book adds a familial dimension to the famous inventors and will help kids understand that history is made by ordinary people determined to do extraordinary things.” — SkyWest Country
  • :”…artfully written, meticulously researched picture book….” — Teacher Magazine
  • “Yolen’s carefully crafted prose offers special insights into the hearts and minds of the three youngest Wright children.” — Chicago Sun Tmes
  • “Yolen captures the affection, frustration, and excitement the Wrights experienced in the years of experimentation leading up to that successful 12-second flight at Kitty Hawk …. Katharine’s voice narrates this lyrical, poem-like story….” — Christian Science Monitor
  • “This lovely picture book provides a fascinating window into the personal lives of the men who proved we could fly.”–Christian Science Monitor
  • “Yolen’s biography is easy to read and fun for children between the ages of seven and twelve.” Five Owls
  • “Most people know of Orville and Wilbur Wright, but few know about their family. Orville and Wilbur’s legacy was made possible by the encouragement and support of their sister, Katherine, who took over the household responsibilities after their mother’s death. Yolen has carefully researched and constructed this story from Katherine’s point of view. Katherine became a teacher, and in 1981 the Gates Learjet Corporation established a memorial award in her name. CU: This book lends itself to a study on women in aviation.” — IRA Teachers Choices 2004
  • “In this centennial year, the voice of another Wright sibling is welcome.” –School Library Journal
  • “Younger sister Katharine Wright’s perspective brings humanity to this reminiscence that begins when the brothers are boys. Yolen’s prose reads like a personal letter, giving readers an inside look at the close-knit family. Oil paintings relay more details, such as Wilbur’s habit of wearing mismatched socks.” –Instructor