Book Review – Race for the Sky by Dan Gutman

After years of planning and experimenting, Wilber and Orville Wright finally got the powered Wright Flyer off the ground on December 17, 1903. Look where we are one hundred and thirteen years later. According to Wikipedia, in 2016, an average of ninety three thousand commercial flights originate from nine thousand airports daily. And Boeing has a 787 Dreamliner which seats up to 335 passengers.

Race for the Sky is told to us through the diaries of fourteen year old Johnny Moore, a kid who lived in Kill Devil Hills at the turn of the twentieth century. He watched the Wright brothers create the Wright Flyer and he wrote about it in a journal that his mom gave him.

As a pilot myself, I love to read books about aviation. I visited Kill Devil Hills with my aunt and saw the place where powered flight began. I love going to the places where these things actually take place and imagine how it really happened. Reading this book added to my knowledge of Wright Brothers and how the Flyer took flight that day.


Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Race for the Sky


Dan Gutman

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction


The book was published November 1, 2003 just in time for the one hundredth anniversary of the first flight.

Summary of the story

Fourteen year old Johnny Moore is given a journal as a gift from his mom to ring in the new century (1900). She said he didn’t have to go school if he wrote in this book every day. At that time, it wasn’t uncommon for kids to not go to school. They would stay home and help with things around the house or go to work and earn money for their families. While he did fish to earn some money, Johnny wound up getting his education in a little different way, he spent time watching the Wright Brothers build the Wright Flyer.

The Wrights weren’t the only ones trying to build an airplane. The race to put a flying machine into the sky was being attempted by men all over the world. The Wrights even had visitors come to see what they were doing. Some were truly curious, but others acted as spies and were trying to steal ideas so they could be the first to built one.

Reactions to the book

Just like Dear Mr. Henshaw, this book is written in epistolary style, from the main character Johnny Moore’s point of view through the use of his personal diary. This style makes the story more personal by showing how Johnny feels and what happened through his eyes. I really enjoy that for middle grade reads.

Gutman does a great job of writing an engaging novel to describe one of the great moments in history. Reading stories like these are a fun way for kids to learn about these significant historical events. Having been to the site and reading this book brings the significance of the event full circle for me. I would definitely recommend this book.

To find out a little more information about the author, Dan Gutman, here is a link to his website Dan Gutman’s website

If you are interested in purchasing the book, here is the link to it on Amazon Race for the Sky

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