This bittersweet and nimbly-illustrated tale of a wise girl
whose bird-brained father attempts to rise above earthly sorrow will lift the
spirits of readers young and old.
Bird-men interest David Almond. His celebrated and award-winning debut novel,
, concerns a boy's discovery of a winged man-creature languishing in
the derelict garage of his new house. The boy and a bird-loving neighbor
befriend, protect and fortify the birdman with ale and Chinese food while the
boy's infant sister hovers near death in the hospital.
In this, Almond's first book for young readers, grief weighs so heavily on
Lizzie's widowed father that she has assumed the role of caretaker. Lizzie
discovers the only thing that engages and enlivens her father is an upcoming
human flight competition. A disheveled Daedalus imprisoned in a maze of sorrow,
Beyond the Book
Aeronautical engineer and inventor
(1925-2007) earned the title
"birdman" becoming internationally known in 1977 as the "father of
human-powered flight" when his Gossamer Condor made the first sustained,
controlled flight by a heavier-than-air craft powered solely by its pilot's
muscles. For the feat he received the $95,000 Henry Kremer Prize; and the Condor is
now housed at the
Two years later, his team created the Gossamer Albatross, another 70-pound craft with a 96-foot wingspan that, with DuPont sponsorship, achieved a human-powered flight
across the English Channel. That flight, made by "pilot-engine" Bryan Allen,
took almost three hours. It won the new Kremer prize of $213,000, at the time
the largest cash prize in...