Posted by Elise Hooper, A Path Made Straight on 16th May 2015
by Jane Yolen Paintings by Jim Burke
This book, another gem by the incomparable Jane Yolen, is based on the true story of Orville and Wilbur Wright and their little sister, Katherine. Orville himself said, "When the world speaks of the Wrights, it must include our sister. Much of our effort has been inspired by her." So this story begins.
It is told in the person of Katherine, and she describes watching her brothers' fascination with a little flying machine they toss back and forth together, marveling at it's structure, fixing it when it is broken, tinkering "till the toy worked better than when Papa first brought it home."
Katherine is their greatest cheerleader, and when Mama dies of tuberculosis, Katherine keeps house, makes the meals, and even after graduating from college and working as a teacher, continues to give her brothers applause. The brothers ran a print shop, then a bicycle shop. The brothers are described in great detail, and Will's habit of wearing mismatching socks brought a smile to Micah's face, for he often finds himself in the same situation!
When the young men begin to experiment with aircraft, Kathrine follows their every move through letters they sent to her nearly every day; when they are successful, the worlds was never the same.
A note from the author at the end of the book states that all the incidents from the book have been well-documented, and that every word stated by either of the Wright Brothers and Katherine comes from letters, articles, interviews, or diary entries. It is such fun to go back and re-read a book once you know that it is really historically accurate- my boys especially think so!
We learned many things about this family that we did not know before, such as the fact that Orville actually made a printing press out of Katherine's old baby buggy he had found in the barn- and it could print a thousand pages an hour! These boys/young men were not just creative with airplanes!
This book is a delightful addition to your reading hours- and you'll learn a lot, too!
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