Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wild and Wonderful Wednesday: Flight

The process and challenges of inventing things has long fascinated me.  Invention is one of the things that make us, as humans, different from the creatures around us.  While science does not by all means have all the answers to the many questions we have about our earth, still it provides us with a way to try to understand the world around us as well as making our world a better one.  Of course like all things in an imperfect world, science and invention don't always lead to good results.  Flight is one subject that humans have long dreamed about.  Long before the first airplane took off, scientists and inventors experimented with the concept. There have been many people who helped make manned flight possible.  The book I'm reviewing today, provides a glimpse of the passion that people have shown for flight.  While this book is fiction that involves altering history, it does a beautiful job of showing the challenges and delights of flight and invention.

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black
by Eden Unger Bowditch
Bancroft Press, 2011
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from copy provided by publisher through NetGalley and personal copy.

Five children are brought together on an isolated farm in Ohio.  Having been separated from their parents for no reason they can think of, they are confused.  Though they quickly develop a fondness for the teacher that they have been provided with, Miss Brett, they remain suspicious of the mysterious men in black who have brought them to this place.

Faye, a thirteen-year-old girl from India, becomes convinced that their parents have been abducted and need to be rescued.  While the others, Jasper (12) and his sister Lucy(6), Noah (12), and Wallace (9) aren't as sure.  Nevertheless, these five intellectually gifted children start work on an invention that could be used to rescue their parents, if they just knew where their parents were.  When a menacing stranger arrives and demands their invention be turned over to them, the children must decide once and for all what action to take and who they can trust.  Is their beloved Miss Brett truly on their side?  Just who are the mysterious men in black?  Will they ever see their parents again?

To be honest, the title of this book made me a bit wary, it makes the book sound dry and boring, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop.  I quickly came to care about each of the children and their confusion.  The author does a delightful job of mixing humor in through the amusing descriptions of the different men in black that the children run into.  I also loved Miss Brett.  It's refreshing to read a book with a caring and skillful teacher, there are so many books these days that make teachers the enemy or just plain stupid. While Miss Brett can't teach the students anything about science that they don't already know, she does open up to them the world of literature and imagination.  I have to admit, the twist at the end got me, I really didn't see it coming, but it fit in perfectly with the story.  This book would make a wonderful read-a-loud, the writing is superb and her descriptions of the setting made me wish I could visit the places that the children see and experience.  I also fell in love with these talented but confused children.  I look forward to reading more about them in future installments.

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