Cover image for The wondrous whirligig / the Wright Brothers' first flying machine
The wondrous whirligig / the Wright Brothers' first flying machine
Glass, Andrew, 1949-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Inspired by a model helicopter and encouraged by their parents and sister, young Orville and Wilbur Wright attempt to build a life-size helicopter from scrap.
Reading Level:
690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.0 0.5 71288.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.4 2 Quiz: 33853 Guided reading level: M.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



When Papa returns from Chicago with a special present for his two young boys, they can't contain their excitement. The tiny, wondrous whirligig spins and shoots through the air until it falls, plop!, on the parlour floor. With their mother's encouragement, Orville and Wilbur Wright attempt to build their own.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS-Gr. 2. This colorful picture book includes facts from the Wright brothers' childhood, but it is actually a flight of fancy in the spirit of a tall tale, as Glass writes in an appended author's note. Inspired by the flying toy their father brings them and aided by their older brothers and their practical, supportive mother, little Orv and Willy construct a contraption designed to lift them into the air and across the countryside. The boys sit in their flying machine as it rolls off its catapulting ramp and then, as their little sister, Kate, says, Kerplunk. Sitting in the wreck, the boys watch a bicyclist pedal by and begin to redesign their machine. Energized by Glass's rich, original use of line and color, the well-composed illustrations teem with action and detail. For readers who don't object to fictionalized stories of actual people, this spirited tale captures the inventive talent, hands-on approach, dogged determination, and family support that helped the Wright brothers succeed. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Wondrous Whirligig: The Wright Brothers' First Flying Machine by Andrew Glass is a tall tale based on the flying propeller toy Orville and Wilbur received as children. In this humorous story, young Willy and Orv (with "little Kate" looking on) attempt to build a life-size version of the whirligig, complete with propellers, seats and a crank handle. This fictional story conveys the brothers' real-life creativity and fascination with flight, and their family's support and encouragement of their experiments. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-3-A good idea gone awry. With so much documented information about the Wright brothers available, it is odd that Glass would choose to posit his story as a type of tall tale told with hyperbole; fictionalized dialogue; and capricious, almost caricatured, illustrations. Although the Wrights could poke fun at themselves and even be the brunt of others' jokes, they do not need to be made fun of: "Yessireebob-. we'll just fit this ramp over that old teeter-totter and bounce your wondrous whatchamacallit right into the sky," say older siblings Loren and Reuch. In reality, Orville and Wilbur's brothers were proud of the younger boys' accomplishments, as was the whole family. The language credited to them is misleading. Their father, Milton Wright, was a bishop in the United Brethren Church, and, although it might not have been a major sect at the time, he was more than a "traveling preacher." Their mother (Glass gets this right in his author's note) encouraged their projects and was quite inventive in her own right. Glass drops the ball, or the thingamajig, or the contraption, or the "whirligig," in this attempt at a lighthearted account. He tries to relate the inventors' childhood attempts to construct a flying machine inspired by their father's gift of a French flying toy, a h?licopt?re, a "bat." Instead, he takes more than a few liberties and compromises the intelligence of the Wrights and of readers.-Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.