The Flyers


Written and Illustrated by Allan Drummond

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003

When the wind blows in hard from the ocean we all climb up the sand dunes, and then we run down, holding our coattails open, trying to fly – and we nearly take off.

The plot in a nutshell: A group of kids take an interest in the Wright Brothers’ flying machine

A group of kids is playing on the beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. They run down the sand dunes and pretend they are flying, wishing they could really fly. The children watch as Orville and Wilbur Wright fly kites and talk about building a real flying machine. Each of the kids imagines what they would do if they could fly, from one kid simply going high enough to look down on his own house from the sky all the way to a boy who dreams of flying into space and walking on the surface of the moon. The children follow the progress of the Wright brothers and are there when they make their historic first flight. They realize that what they all imagined is now in the realm of the possible and they play at flying with renewed fervor.

Author/illustrator Allan Drummond does a wonderful job capturing the fascination that children must have felt back at the turn of the 20th century, when the Wright brothers actually managed to fly for the first time. Until I read this book, I had never considered the point of view of children and how completely fascinated they must have been with all the possibilities of such a magical discovery as actually being able to fly. I love the way that the different children take their dreams of flight in different directions, showcasing both the individuality of childrens’ imaginations and the many avenues that were opened to us when flight became a reality.

Spoiler alert: Mom is just going to yell at you to come down from there.

Spoiler alert: Mom is just going to yell at you to come down from there.

The watercolor illustrations are whimsical and airy, with detailed drawings of the Wright brothers and their original flying machine. As each child shares the story of his future dreams of flight, the image is illustrated in a word balloon above their head. There is a two page spread near the end of the book showing milestones in air travel from the first two-seater plane all the way to 1969’s walk on the moon. This book was published during the 100th anniversary of that first flight in Kitty Hawk and would be a great choice for anyone interested in flight.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that every advancement of man begins with a dream.


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