Wilbur Wright Meets Lady Liberty

by Robert Burleigh (Author) Wendell Minor (Illustrator)

Wilbur Wright Meets Lady Liberty
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

In Robert Burleigh's nonfiction picture book Wilbur Wright Meets Lady Liberty, illustrated by Wendell Minor, two American icons meet during Wilbur Wright's dramatic flight circling the Statue of Liberty.

On September 29th, 1909, Wilbur Wright performed his first public flight for a crowd of disbelievers in the New York Harbor, home to the Statue of Liberty. With courage and caution, he put his airplane to the test and flew around the iconic landmark while the crowd observed, breathless. This minute-by-minute account of Wright's voyage over New York City captures the weight and the wonder of human achievement. When Wilbur Wright met Lady Liberty, he propelled his dream into the imaginations of many, securing the future of aviation. Christy Ottaviano Books

Kirkus Reviews

On Sept. 29, 1909, Wilbur Wright, co-inventor of the airplane, piloted his Wright Flyer around the Statue of Liberty for six and a half minutes. Awestruck spectators, most of whom had never witnessed a flight, included journalists, photographers, and 10-year-old Juan Trippe and his parents. Children read/hear the voices of Juan and his parents (set in italicized type), making their presence immediate. This punctuates the dramatic third-person narration, expressed in a terse present tense that adds suspense. 

Publishers Weekly

In this measured telling, previous collaborators Burleigh and Minor recount the first public flying exhibition of Wilbur and Orville Wright's airplane, during a 1909 technology showcase in New York City. As the pages turn, Wilbur Wright straps a red canoe to the bottom of the Wright Flyer before piloting it over New York Harbor, around the Statue of Liberty, and over the Lusitania. Omniscient narration juxtaposes Wilbur Wright's measured, methodical actions and observations ("His feet brace... His grip tightens") with mounting excitement: "The Flyer angles upward into the air: Ten feet. Thirty feet. Fifty!" Though enthusiastic commentary flanks the moment-by-moment account, the description of Wilbur's skilled, unruffled performance creates an understated tone. Realistic gouache watercolors offer varying perspectives that give scale to both statue and plane. Bookending the story is a second one about a boy who was inspired on that day; intermittent spreads depict sepia-toned portraits of Juan Trippe--who would later found Pan American Airways--alongside imagined spectator comments. Back matter includes creators' notes, a brief recap of the Wright brothers' endeavors, and other information about the exhibition. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Robert Burleigh

ROBERT BURLEIGH has written children's books about many well-known Americans, including Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh and Who Said That? Famous Americans Speak. He lives with his wife in Chicago, Illinois.

Wendell Minor is the award-winning and bestselling illustrator of numerous books, including Ghost Ship, by Mary Higgins Clark. He lives in Washington, Connecticut.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Henry Holt & Company
Publication date
March 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JNF007020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Historical
JNF025210 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/20th Century
JNF025080 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | Exploration & Discovery
JNF057010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Transportation | Aviation
Library of Congress categories
New York (State)
New York
20th century
Wright, Orville

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!