I bought this brilliant picture book after seeing it featured on #bookstagram recently. Beautifully illustrated, it tells the story of Emma Lilian Todd, a self-taught engineer, who became the first female airplane designer. Born in the late 1800s and growing up in a family of innovators, Lilian loved to tinker and invent things. As she grew up, however, she realised that inventing wasn’t considered women’s work and so took employment in the US Patent Office, where she typed up plans for new inventions. After seeing a number of flying machine blueprints come into the office, many of which she thought too impractical, she decided it was time to fix her sights on inventing an airplane that would work…
I really enjoyed finding out about an aviation pioneer whom I’d never heard of before. Not only did Lilian Todd become the Aeronautic Society of New York’s first female member, she also founded the Junior Aero Club in the US to both teach children aviation science and encourage invention. What I particularly loved about this story is its focus on failure and perseverance, and the positive and necessary roles they play in critical thinking and, indeed, life in general. I think these are really important lessons for children to learn (and ones that I’m struggling to impart to my daughter who gets so angry with herself for not getting things right first time). With gorgeous illustrations that have a vintage feel to them, it’s an inspiring STEM read for both girls and boys aged 6 – 10.
Wood, Wire, Wings
Author: Kirsten W Larson
Illustrator: Tracy Subisak
Publisher: Calkins Creek Books (an imprint of Boyds, Mills & Kane)
Hardback: 48 pages