This season marks a wonderful first for Compendium—our first children’s book based on an award-winning film. The story is about a young woman with a dream to fly, and the challenges she faces in reaching her goal. Both the film and the book adaptation are inspired by the real-life person Miss E. Lilian Todd, the first woman in the world to design and build an airplane.
Miss Todd is relatively unknown in the world of aviation, which is what drew the film’s director Kristina Yee to the story. While doing research for another project on aviation, Kristina came across a November 28, 1909 New York Times article noting Miss Todd’s accomplishment. But after the successful flight of her first plane, she disappeared into history.
“I wondered why I’d never heard of her, and the more I read, the more her story smacked of injustice. I thought it was amazing that she accomplished so much, and yet is so forgotten by the history books,” says Kristina.
The significance of her plane and its flight should not be understated. Though the Wright Brothers had made history with Kitty Hawk in 1900, very few others at the time were successful in getting a “flying machine” off the ground—much less staying in the air for more than several minutes.
“The mystery of what happened to her after her plane flew also drew me to her,” says Kristina. “I wanted to believe that, as we’ve portrayed in the story, her disappearance wasn’t a tragedy, but an adventure.”
Miss Todd took a full year to create. The twelve-minute musical short was worked on by a dedicated group of passionate students at the National Film and Television School in the UK, and went on to win the Student Academy Award in 2013 as well as the Royal Television Society Award in 2014 and dozens of other awards.
The film was made using stop-motion animation with handmade sets and puppets and incorporating paper cut-outs, felt, and other custom-built props including several miniature models. The book adaptation, Miss Todd and Her Wonderful Flying Machine, was created using stills from the short film to bring Miss Todd to life in a whole new way. Alongside Kristina, the book was written by Frances Poletti who also wrote for the film.
We would like to say a special thank you to Kristina and Fran. We’re thrilled to have worked with such a talented team to create this unique children’s book. We look forward to encouraging young readers to pursue their dreams, no matter who may tell you no.
Watch the entire film at www.misstoddfilm.com!