Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Cleared for Takeoff: The Ultimate Book of Flight

Cleared for Takeoff: The Ultimate Book of Flight

Fall 2016 Non-Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 978-1452135502
Hardcover Price: $21.99

Anyone intrigued by flying will find this casual compendium of stories and pioneer profiles, aeronautical science, and flight history to be a fascinating go-to book. Covering everything off the ground from the earliest "birdmen" dreamers and the invention of the airplane, to rockets and the Space Shuttle missions, this densely info-packed, large-format hardback is not only educational but reader-friendly and entertaining.

British author Rowland White is a self-professed flying fanatic. In the book's introduction, he tells how his passion took off first with a school project about jets and then continued to grow throughout his life - more recently in a bird sanctuary sitting with his own children watching a majestic falcon defy gravity at a stunning speed. That brought tears of joy to his eyes. The bestselling author of three aviation books, White brings that same passion and joy to each of these 320 pages.

The topics covered here are so far-reaching that they'll lift up your spirit and curiosity along with your knowledge. Leonardo da Vinci's sketches of artificial "flapping wings" - some 400 years before the Wright Brothers put Kitty Hawk on the map? The WWI flying ace known as The Red Baron? Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic? The comparative size of different aircraft (illustrated)? The invention of the ejection seat? All here.

Interspersed with the history and science are look-at-this and try-this chapters such as "Aviation Origami" (making planes from paper); a graphic explanation of 12 aerobatic maneuvers; famous songs about flying; The Bermuda Triangle; the top fictional pilots; animals in space; and things aircraft have been named after….and on and on.

If there's a downside to this high-flying book, it's that while it is encyclopedic, the short chapters are almost randomly ordered, as if the author can't wait to tell you about this or that. Sure, Icarus is in the beginning and drones are at the end, but in between there's informational wind shear showing up every which way. And that's both the charming excitement and the challenge of the book.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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