Brompton Village Hall was a flurry of activity as more than 30 people queued to get their copy of the book signed by local author, Mary Jones.
The book sets out to answer such questions as: “Who really invented the first flying machine? Who designed the first articulated artificial arm, the self-righting lifeboat, the safety belt and the caterpillar track? Where did a boy called George Cayley born in the 18th century get so many ideas from?”
George Cayley, often referred to as ‘The Father of Flight’, successfully flew the first manned glider more than fifty years before the Wright brothers flew in America.
“George Cayley’s Curious Summer” is a fictitious account of the life of young George, set during August 1784, when he was 10, nearly 11. Together with a village girl and a servant boy his curiosity leads them into all sorts of adventures.
Fact is liberally mixed with fiction, but an informative chapter at the end of the book explains all, with many of the book’s key events being strongly grounded in real events.
Mary said inspiration for the book came when she realised that there were no suitable books about Cayley for children. “I thought, I would really like to write this book,” she said, although she had to wait until retirement before she had the time, attending writing classes run by poet, author and playwright Wendy Pratt for guidance along the way.
Olly Cooper, Interim Headteacher at Brompton & Sawdon Primary School said: "George's Curious Summer has become the perfect complement to our school's history, English and science curriculum.
“A resource that is extremely useful for teachers nationwide, as well as those local to North Yorkshire, the text positively engages children into learning about one of the true pioneers of aviation."
The book is not just proving popular nationally, copies have also been sent as far afield as New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Western Australia.
It’s fair to say that Mary has a long-standing affection for the local man, having been part of the group that in 2003 organised the flight of a replica of Sir George’s flying machine, piloted by Sir Richard Branson, across Brompton Dale where the first flight took place in 1853.
At the launch, the floor was opened to questions and Mary was cheekily asked: “What’s the next book going to be?”
Mary, a former consultant community paediatrician, smiled and said: ““For the moment, it’s a case of have book, will give talk to anyone who wants to hear about it!”
Mary’s mentor, Wendy Pratt, said of the book: “George's Curious Summer is a genre defying adventure story full of interesting facts about George Cayley, the father of modern aviation.
“It is bursting with energy and eager to please children of all ages, whether they be flight enthusiasts interested in the age of invention or those looking for a heart-warming adventure.”
George Cayley’s Curious Summer is an engaging tale that is accessible for children but with enough facts intertwined to capture the interest of readers of all ages.