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  • Writer's pictureJosette Abruzzini

A Girl who Tinkered

Wood, Wire and Wings: Emma Lillian Todd Invents an Airplane is a lyrical tale about both the challenges and joys of turning ideas into inventions. It’s a picture book biography that introduces a curious, persistent and patient woman as she defies the norms of her time and achieves her dream. Even in our current age, when women are taken more seriously than ever before, grit and determination are important traits. Lillian’s story is one of passion and determination!

From the first page Larson uses an array of breezy words of flight – ballooned, soaring, gusts – to capture the spirit of a young girl who tinkers at every turn. The text is peppered with couplets – trimmed and twisted, filed and fitted - that give the reader a sense of forward motion. We join Lillian on her amazing journey, observing, thinking, creating, failing, rethinking…. We hope she succeeds in turning her ideas into realities, and she does! The joy of this book is the actual process of invention.

Young readers will enjoy Tracy Subisak’s lovely illustrations and they’ll surely delve into the many details that she has so expertly provided. The substantial back pages provide additional context on this vibrant era of invention, and the bibliography is considerable. This story has obviously been very well-researched by both the writer and the illustrator.

Wood, Wire and Wings is a book that’ll inspire many a young girl and boy to follow their own curiosities. This picture book for 7-10 year-olds will plant seeds of invention for years to come!

Or read this review on Amazon at

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