I am Amelia Earhart, (Dial Books for Young Readers, $12.99, ages 5-8 ) by Brad Meltzer with illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos, is reviewed by MaryAnne Locher.
What makes a hero? Someone who accomplishes great things? A person who does what others say can’t be done? An individual who sets a positive example for those around them? In a time when there were distinct lines drawn between appropriate male and female behavior, Amelia Earhart pushed the boundaries and accomplished great things.
The book begins with a seven-year-old Amelia, shunning dolls and dresses for “flying” self-made roller coasters off of the tool shed in the backyard. Hardly lady-like for a girl from her time, but Amelia found it so thrilling (crash landing and all) that she developed a love for flying.
We learn that she took her very first flight at the age of 23, worked in various un-ladylike jobs to save up for her flying lessons and to ultimately buy her own plane, before breaking numerous flying records, which included being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
For parents who want to encourage their daughters to be strong, capable women, or show their sons that girls can do anything too, this book, with fun colorful illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos, is the ticket. Let your children’s imagination fly with I am Amelia Earhart.
I never turn down an opportunity to read non-fiction books about women who have accomplished great things, especially those pioneers who set out to do what few women attempted during the era in which they lived. There’s nothing more inspiring and motivating than learning about the great accomplishments of those who, against all odds, followed their dreams and left extraordinary marks in world history. Women Aviators: 26 Stories of Pioneer Flights, Daring Missions and Record-Setting Journeys($19.95, Chicago Review Press, Ages 12 and up) by Karen Bush Gibson, presents the important roles women played from the earliest days of flight travel.
On March 8, 1910, seven years after the first flight at Kitty Hawk, Raymonde de Laroche from France became the first woman to earn a pilot’s license. The first American woman to earn her pilot’s license (1911) was Harriet Quimby, who was also the first woman to fly 350 miles across the English Channel (1912). Neta Snook, from Illinois, was so determined to fly a plane that she applied and was accepted to a flight school and then bought a small plane that was in disrepair and fixed it herself. In the 1920s she was approached by a woman who asked if Snook would give her flying lessons. That woman was Amelia Earheart, who was inspired by Quimby to learn to fly. Snook taught Amelia to fly at a cost of 75¢ per minute – a lot of money at that time! Though Earheart attempted to fly around the world in 1937, her plane disappeared, never to be found. It wasn’t until 1964 that a woman successfully flew around the world and that woman was Geraldine Mack; she flew over 29,000 miles in just over 29 days.
There are so many other fascinating women in this book, like Elinor Smith, a 17-year-old who flew her plane under New York City’s four bridges. British born, Beryl Markham took flight from England in 1936 to journey 3,500 miles across the Atlantic in 22 hours. Her aviation chart flew out of the plane shortly after her journey began, and there was no radio on board. But somehow she made it to Nova Scotia, where her fuel line froze and her aircraft began to fall at a rapid rate. Through her pilot skills, she was able to get control of the plane enough to crash safely in a peat bog, where she was rescued. In other chapters, discover the first female pilots to be hired by commercial airlines, the first female military pilots, the first female pilot to break the sound barrier, stunt flyers, air safety investigators, bush pilots and much more.
In the back of the book is a glossary of aviation terms that includes valuable information about different types of planes. There is also an extensive bibliography offering many additional sources of books, videos and websites for readers. In addition, there are photographs of each of the female pilots featured in the book.
Reading Women Aviators not only guides young readers through the missions of the 26 women, but also showcases their strengths, expertise and great courage. What all of these women had in common was the unfaltering desire to fly no matter what the cost or risk. It is through these pioneers’ accomplishments that readers will be inspired to set their own lofty goals, whatever they may be, and when it comes to achieving them, they too will discover that the sky’s the limit.