Monday, April 24, 2017

Higher, Steeper, Faster: The Daredevils Who Conquered the Skies

Image result for higher steeper fasterHigher, Steeper, Faster: The Daredevils Who Conquered the Skies
Lawrence Goldstone
Little Brown, 2017 243 pages
Grades 4-Up

Veteran author of non-fiction for adults, Goldstone, has adapted his critically acclaimed account of the early days of flying, Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies, for young readers. The book opens at the height of stunt flying at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition where a record-breaking crowd has gathered to see daredevil Lincoln Beachey fly. Goldstone next turns back to the history of flight from ancient times to the Wright Brothers. France was also involved in the race to get a plane in the air and an account of these brave fliers is offered along with their American counterparts. As airplanes become more advanced, one inventor will develope a new and improved model from an existing one, more flight records are shattered, and more pilots are enticed to enter the skies. The turn-of-the century public is extremely interested in this new phenomenon and huge crowd are attracted to flight shows, encouraging sponsors to put up large amounts of prize money for breaking records, drawing even more pilots to the game. Unfortunately, the early aircraft are not safe and many brave men and women die, yet this does not deter an ever-increasing band of hopefuls. As the country approaches World War I and many famous daredevils have crashed and burned, the golden age of flight exhibitions draws to a close, leaving behind a legacy that changes the face of war and travel.

Lawrence Goldstone is a historian, researcher, writer, and advocate of literacy for children, therefor it is no surprise that he has turned his talents to writing for young people. Higher, Steeper, Faster is written on a level that young people will understand, yet retains the rich fabric of the story of early flight and the tragic tales of its key players. Meticulously researched, this volume will be used for reports, yet can also be enjoyed recreationally. Readers interested in history and science will be the natural audience. The story has a stem connection, as it delves briefly into the engineering and design of the early planes, allowing for this to be a wonderful addition to a school curriculum. Original photos, postcards, and posters are liberally distributed among the pages. Extensive back-matter includes a time line, glossary of terms, notes, bibliography, and index. Goldstone includes sources for original oral accounts form some of the key players proving that his book is as authentic as possible. Sidebars allow for bonus information, further fleshing out the account. An excellent piece of non-fiction that reads like fiction, sure to attract readers. After reading this book you will never take air flight for granted again!

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