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KLIATTSomewhat in the style of Scholastic's series of historical diary-novels (My Name is America, Dear America, etc.), this presents the story of the Wright brothers' first flight through a teenager's journal. An interesting twist is that Johnny Moore was a real person who actually witnessed the flight, as Gutman makes clear in his conclusion. He even appends a newspaper article about Johnny, and tells about what happened later in his life. In the novel, Johnny is much more involved with the brothers and their persistent efforts to fly than he was in real life. At first he considers them "crazy dingbatters," but over the course of several years he gets to know them and helps them build and test their machines. He even gets a chance to go up in the air himself. Gutman, the author of Honus and Me and many other books for young readers, includes period photographs. The story covers 1900-1908, and Johnny's grammar improves somewhat over the years, though he retains his folksy voice. His journal describes the many careful preparations and calculations the brothers made, emphasizing that they were scientists, and it also mentions the fierce competition around the world to become the first to fly. Gutman succeeds in making an engaging novel of the brothers' struggles. This is a great companion to Mary Kay Carson's nonfiction title, The Wright Brothers for Kids, reviewed in this issue. KLIATT Codes: J-Recommended for junior high school students. 2003, Simon & Schuster, 192p. illus. bibliog., Ages 12 to 15.
— Paula Rohrlick