Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 13, 2020

Book Giveaway: WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: EMMA LILIAN TODD INVENTS AN AIRPLANE by Kirsten Larson

Kirsten Larson has written a new picture book titled, WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: EMMA LILIAN TODD INVENTS AN AIRPLANE , Illustrated by Tracy Subisak and published by Calkins Creek. Kirsten has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helpingKirsten and Tracy!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!

This riveting nonfiction picture book biography explores both the failures and successes of self-taught engineer Emma Lilian Todd as she tackles one of the greatest challenges of the early 1900s: designing an airplane.

Emma Lilian Todd’s mind was always soaring–she loved to solve problems. Lilian tinkered and fiddled with all sorts of objects, turning dreams into useful inventions. As a child, she took apart and reassembled clocks to figure out how they worked. As an adult, typing up patents at the U.S. Patent Office, Lilian built the inventions in her mind, including many designs for flying machines. However, they all seemed too impractical. Lilian knew she could design one that worked. She took inspiration from both nature and her many failures, driving herself to perfect the design that would eventually successfully fly. Illustrator Tracy Subisak’s art brings to life author Kirsten W. Larson’s story of this little-known but important engineer.

Book journey:

If there’s one takeaway from my book’s journey, it’s that writing a picture book is a lot like inventing: a small dose of inspiration and bucketloads of perspiration.

The idea for Lilian’s story began with Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month (now Storystorm) in November 2013. One of the last  ideas I jotted down that month was “Rosie the Riveter.” In January 2014, I began researching the idea, and grabbed Andrea Beaty’s best-selling fiction book, ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER, from my public library. At the end of the book is an illustration of female firsts in aviation created by illustrator David Roberts. Here’s what caught my eye: “E. Lillian Todd, first woman to design an airplane in 1906.” That’s just three years after the Wright Brothers first flew.

Now, I’ve lived and worked around airplanes my whole life, and I had never heard of Lilian Todd. Neither had my husband, who’s quite the aviation history buff. I was instantly hooked by the detective work required to find traces of this long-forgotten inventor. There were no adult biographies about her. There were no journals, diaries, or letters I could get my hands on. I scoured historic newspapers and magazines and talked with fellow researchers to find each and every detail I could. Every fact I uncovered felt like a tremendous victory.

I wrote my first draft in Susanna Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class in March 2014 and continued to research and tweak the text with my writing groups. Three months later, my eventual editor, the fabulous Carolyn Yoder, first critiqued a draft at a conference. But just like Lilian’s plane, my book was far from ready for lift off. I was still learning my craft.

It would take another two and a half years: another critique from Carolyn at a different conference, revisions with my insightful agent, and ultimately a revise and resubmit request from Calkins Creek before the book sold in January 2017. And that wasn’t the end of the tinkering. There were still more revisions and fact checks of the text and Tracy Subisak’s sensational art before the book went to the printer more than two years later.

So what’s the takeaway from this journey? Writing picture books requires us to stay flexible. Problem solve. To keep tweaking and tinkering with a book’s design, trying new structures, a new point of view, or perhaps a different voice. Ultimately, passion and perseverance will give your work wings.

KIRSTEN’S BIO:

Kirsten W. Larson used to work with rocket scientists at NASA. Now she writes books for curious kids. She’s the author of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: EMMA LILIAN TODD INVENTS AN AIRPLANE, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Calkins Creek, February 2020), CECILIA PAYNE: MAKING OF A STAR (SCIENTIST), illustrated by Katherine Roy (Chronicle, Fall 2021), along with 25+ nonfiction books for kids. Find her at kirsten-w-larson.com or on Twitter/Instagram @KirstenWLarson.

TRACY SUBISAK’S BIO:

Tracy studied industrial design in school, subsequently working in the field internationally for seven years, designing computers for the future, before turning her focus to freelance illustration and design.

She is the illustrator of several picture books including Grizzly Boy, Cy Makes a Friend, and Shawn Loves Sharks, which received a starred review from Kirkus, was a Junior Library Guild selection, and received a 2018 Washington State Book Award. Upcoming nonfiction picture book title Wood, Wire, Wings by Kirsten Larson is a bio of Emma Lilian Todd, the first woman to successfully design and engineer a working airplane.

Tracy is the proud daughter of a Taiwanese mother who was a Chinese language instructor and art teacher, and an American father, son of Polish and Slovakian immigrant parents, who is an engineer. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, has lived in Taiwan, South Korea, NY, and San Francisco, and now makes her home in the PNW in Portland, OR. She is always eager to go adventuring and is a true believer that experience begets the best stories.

Thank you Kirsten for sharing your book and journey with us. I’m sure kids will love reading and seeing how Emma’s mind soared and solved problems. I would think it will inspire some minds to do the same. The whole book looks great! Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. What a wonderful story, both the book journey and the book! Looking forward to reading it.

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  2. Great interview ladies! Kirsten, your statement – “writing a PB is like inventing” really struck me. This really is a beautiful book. Congrats.

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    • Lots of creative practices have so much in common. That’s why I love the idea of STEAM.

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  3. This looks fabulous — I’m sure it will soar to success. Congratulations.

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  4. Until your book, I hadn’t heard of Todd either. Thank you for persevering to bring her story to light.

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    • It was a true joy to return her to the narrative of history.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your journey! It’s a great reminder that writing a picture book biography is a long process but to keep plugging along. Congratulations on this beautiful book! Can’t wait to read it.

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    • Thanks Carolyn. It’s definitely an exercise in persistence! 🙂

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  6. Love hearing the journey of the story from idea to published book. Thanks!

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  7. This book will surely sail sky high – I am excited to read it! Congrats!

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  8. Great for Women’s History Month!

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    • I agree, Natasha! I hope it finds its way into classrooms just in time.

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  9. I loved reading about your book’s journey and can’t wait to read this book! What a great topic. Congratulations!

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  10. Bravo, Kirsten! I know how hard you work and you deserve every success…

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  11. I love Kirsten’s takeaway and totally agree it’s a lot like the invention process in so many ways! (I’m a blog subscriber, too. 🙂

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  12. I love hearing how this book came into the world! It reminds me that I need to keep working until my manuscripts are ready for the world. Congratulations on your book! I’m looking forward to sharing it with my granddaughters. (I am a blog subscriber)

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  13. What a great story of perseverance! Shared on Pinterest, my personal Facebook page, and my tutoring Facebook page.

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  14. I was not aware of Miss Todd prior to this, it sounds and looks like a terrific book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1228024433614262272, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest too: https://www.pinterest.com.mx/pin/336573772153916731/.
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day!

    Like

  15. That’s a story I haven’t heard before – dying over your fabulous title!

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    • Thanks Lauri. That wasn’t the original title. It took lots of trials and errors to find that one!

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  16. Love stories about unknown female pioneers. Congratulations on a great book and intriguing topic that will surely be a hit with kids.

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  17. I agree about the importance of staying flexible. And I can’t wait to read this fascinating story. Congrats, Kirsten!

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  18. Congratulations! So proud of you, Kirsten!

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  19. What a wonderful addition this would be to inspire my female future pilots in training.

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  20. What an amazing story behind the story. Now she will be known because of your book. I just put a request for it at the library yesterday. I can’t wait to read. Congratulations! Shared on Twitter and subscriber.

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    • Oh, thanks for requesting at your library, Ashley, so both you and young readers will have access to the book. I really appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I am excited to read this book! I am an elementary literacy specialist and this book would be a great addition to our school’s mentor texts collection. 🙂 Congratulations to Kirsten!

    Like

    • I have shared this blog post on the Williamsburg Area Reading Council’s Facebook page. In addition, I have shared it on Twitter (@wmsbg301). I also signed up to follow this blog. 🙂

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    • I know who you are, Wendy! 😉 Thanks for helping spread the news.

      Like

  22. Such a fascinating topic for a book about a flying pioneer who most people have never heard of–sure to be inspiring for kids of all ages. Congrats on persevering! (I follow this blog.)

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  23. Fun post. The book looks great.

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  24. This looks so good, I ordered a copy for myself. No need to add my name. Thanks for telling us about it.

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    • Oh, Carol, thank you. That means a lot. I hope you enjoy it.

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  25. Wow. What a journey. Can’t wait to read it❤️

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  26. Thank you for sharing your journey. This book looks fabulous!

    Like

  27. What a story, Kirsten! I can’t wait to read your book!

    Like

  28. Great post. I look forward to reading this one!

    Like


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