Wood, Wire, Wings

Get ready for Women’s History Month! I’ll start you off with this week’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday, about a woman I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of! 

But first, it’s time to announce some winners in the giveaways….. 
Winner of Beautiful Shades of Brown from Nancy Churnin…Patricia Tilton!
Winner of Patricia’s Vision from Michelle Lord…Annie Lynn!
Congratulations to both of you! Enjoy these fabulous female stories!

Version 2Title: Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane

Written by: Kirsten Larson

Illustrated by: Tracy Subisak

Calkins Creek, 2020, biography

Suitable for ages: 6-10

Themes/topics: airplanes, invention, women in history

To Emma Lilian Todd, problems were like gusts of wind: they set her mind soaring.

Sometimes the problems seemed small, like where to find metal to craft her inventions. (Solution: she saved tin cans from her supper.)

But soon Lilian’s challenges ballooned.

Emma Lilian Todd’s mind was always soaring–she loved to solve problems. Lilian tinkered and fiddled with all sorts of objects, turning dreams into useful inventions. As a child, she took apart and reassembled clocks to figure out how they worked. As an adult, typing up patents at the U.S. Patent Office, Lilian built the inventions in her mind, including many designs for flying machines. However, they all seemed too impractical. Lilian knew she could design one that worked. She took inspiration from both nature and her many failures, driving herself to perfect the design that would eventually successfully fly. Illustrator Tracy Subisak’s art brings to life author Kirsten W. Larson’s story of this little-known but important engineer.

Activities and Resources:
~Compare and contrast two early airships using a Venn diagram.
~Design your own airship. What features would you include for comfort and to make it a practical vehicle? Create an advertisement for your invention.
~Research: Choose one of the inventions featured in the second spread of the story. How do you think it changed lives?

Why I like this book:
I’d never heard of Emma Lilian Todd and the airplane she invented. Once again, I learn from a beautiful, succinct, powerful picture book. As a child who loved to tinker, I love reading about these women who went the distance to invent. This story is fascinating, especially in how her early interests blossomed as she found her way along life’s path and took advantage of opportunities to learn. A perfect book to feature for Women’s History Month, Larson’s text flows alongside lively illustrations laced with onomatopoeia and quotations to provide multiple layers of interest on each page. Perseverance and resilience abound. The author’s informative note and the timeline of airships make for interesting back matter.

AND be sure to come back next Friday for a look “Behind the Scenes” with Kirsten Larson!

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

3 thoughts on “Wood, Wire, Wings

  1. I’m thrilled to win Beautiful Shades of Brown. I have enjoyed reading and reviewing Nancy’s other books. You should probably be able to see my e-mail address in my comment.

    Like you, I have learned more about interesting people through picture books than I would otherwise! I NEVER heard of Emma Lilian Todd and her fascination with designing aircraft. Am curious when this happened. I’m from Dayton, OH, Home of the Wright Brothers and the Women’s International Air Museum. Not a story I even heard about from our aviation historian — I worked at the WPAFB. Will be interested in reading her story. Thanks for the heads up!


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