Did you know that helicopters can fly forward, backward, and side-to-side? Or that the wingspan of a jumbo jet is almost twice as long as the distance of the Wright Brothers’ first flight? Since recorded time, man has looked to the sky and dreamed of ways to fly there. A is for Airplane: An Aviation Alphabet celebrates the roots, inventions, and spirit of the science of flight.
In the Alphabet Series’ usual cheerful style, each spread in this picture book combines a quick rhyme for each letter, a dramatic watercolor painting, and a long detailed sidebar packed with history and technology. Some of the rhymes feel trite (for Helicopters: “H is here to save the day, / helping those who are in harm’s way”). But the science and engineering will grab older readers, from the facts about the International Space Station (orbiting the Earth every hour and a half at an altitude of over 200 miles) to the details about becoming a pilot. Then there is the fascinating history of the Tuskegee Airmen, including the prejudice they suffered and their achievements; the biographies of pioneers Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and the Wright Brothers; and the National Air and Space Museum today. The back matter includes “fun questions and answers,” but no bibliography. Grades 2-4. –Hazel Rochman, Booklist