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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Amazing Aircraft

Simon, Seymour. 2002. AMAZING AIRCRAFT. New York, NY: SeaStar Books. ISBN: 1587171791.

Seymour Simon has written a picture book describing with both words and photographs the history of the human desire to fly. Starting with hot air balloons in 1783 and Leonardo da Vinci’s plans for flapping wings in 1487, the pictures and basic descriptions continue up through today’s airplanes, the Concord supersonic passenger jet which travels more than twice the speed of sound, and the Lockheed F-117 “stealth” fighter plane.

The author’s use of photography as his visual medium, and his occasional explanation of terms used to describe what makes each aircraft special helps the young reader to learn fun facts about each type of flight machine listed. Each photograph has been carefully selected for it’s clear depiction of the traits listed beside it, and gives the reader a good reference point for the information included. This book is definitely intended for a younger reader who already has an interest in the topic of airplanes, travel, and flight. While it may expand vocabulary, the author’s sparse and factual blurbs and single individual photo of each craft selected for the book seem to oversimplify an exciting topic. This book would be unlikely to grab the interest of a non-aircraft enthusiast.

The Horn Book: “While well designed, this book doesn't adequately explain certain historical events (the [cf2]Hindenburg[cf1] disaster, Germany's cancellation of an invasion of England during WWII), which may confuse some newly independent readers.”
Booklist: “Although the words are not all simple, they appear in large, legible type. A typical double-page spread includes a colorful photo accompanied by a few lines of text. With clear photos and succinct writing, these volumes will fill a demand for informative books that are short and easy enough for primary-grade children to read independently.”

==> With this book as an example, children could research and write books on their own topic of interest—photos for the project might be available on the internet or photocopied from print resources.
==> Children could make a vocabulary list of words whose meaning are unclear, or newly learned words from this book, look up the definitions, and share these with other children in the group.
==> Perfect for starting out a field trip to an airfield, balloon launching, or museum of flight.

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