________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 29. . . .April 1, 2016


Ten of the Best Adventures in the Sky. (Ten of the Best: Stories of Exploration and Adventure).

David West.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2016.
24 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & html, $8.95 (pbk.) $18.36 (RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-1873-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-1838-3 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4271-7806-0 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4271-7800-8 (html).

Subject Headings:
Flight-History-Juvenile literature.
Aeronautics-History-Juvenile literature.
Air pilots-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Stephanie Johnson.

** /4


As Earhart approached Howland Island, Itasca received radio messages from her. However, she could not hear the return messages from the ship. The ship’s radio operator, Leo Bellarts, realized with horror that the aircraft’s direction finder was not working – and there was nothing he could do about it.


In this new series from Crabtree, adventure stories which take place in a range of places, including space, the jungle and, in this particular book, the sky, are the focus. Complete with 10 stories about flight adventures, this book details various flights starting from the 18th century and moving up to the 21st century. While some of the stories tell of successful adventures in the sky, such as the very first flight in a hot air balloon, there are also stories of some major failures, including deaths and disappearances, such as that of Amelia Earhart, which add an extra thrilling element to the book. All of the stories are interesting accounts, but sometimes they are packed with a lot of information (people, places, dates, measurements, etc.) that makes the reading a bit of a slog.

     Ten of the Best Adventures in the Sky includes an index and glossary in the back matter, and terms throughout the book are bolded, but an editing error resulted in two terms missing from the glossary. It would have been nice if the terms were defined on the page as well as in the glossary as flipping back and forth can be frustrating. The stories typically take place over a spread of two pages, and the text fills about one page’s worth. The rest of the content includes an actual image of the main character, a map and an illustration depicting the story. Another complaint with this book are the lackluster illustrations as they do not, in fact, depict the story but are just some sort of aircraft in a sky. The digital appearance of the illustrations is also not pleasing to the eye and comes across as amateurish.

     The formatting of the book is another negative as it could have been structured better. Each story starts and ends with a blurb of text that is in a different colour and a smaller font so that the blurb looks like either a synopsis or a side-story. This, however, is not the case as the blurbs actually fit into the main text, and so there is no reason for their separation, and it just results in confusion. It would have been nice to see the dates of each story stand out more, perhaps alongside the title, as the book does proceed chronologically, but the dates are mixed into the text so that, as you are reading the story, you constantly keep looking back to find the date again.

     All in all, the stories themselves are captivating and written in an accessible manner so that they will likely enthral kids interested in the subject matter of aircraft. The short length of the stories and the fact that they’re broken up into two-page chapters is nice as it makes the book easy to pick up and put down wherever you like. The book, itself, provides a nice introduction to the history of flight and how aircraft changed and developed over time. Although the formatting and displeasing illustrations do put a negative light on the book, the stories are interesting enough to make the book a good read and a useful tool in classrooms.

Recommended with Reservations.

Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies Program from the University of Alberta.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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