We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
Last November, I featured the graphic biography of Amelia Earhart. For our current theme, Fearless Females and Courageous Women, I was able to find juvenile biographies that feature other aviatrixes who showed the world that women could also fly. All three books talk about dreaming big and having the courage to make big dreams come true.
Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman
Written by: Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger
Illustrated by: Teresa Flavin
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books (2001)
Book borrowed from Wayne County Public Library.
Book photos by me.
“You can be somebody. You can fly high, just like me.” — Bessie Coleman
In Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman, young readers will get to know Bessie, the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license. Authors Borden and Kroeger talked about Bessie’s early years when she was a little girl from Texas who loved numbers and words. When Bessie wasn’t learning numbers or reading books, she helped her family pick cotton so they would have food on the table. During those days, Bessie was used to walking four miles to school and back. Being able to endure walking for miles helped Bessie coped later in life, when she lived in France to learn how to fly.
Bessie Coleman’s story was told in free verse with illustrations that were done in gouache and colored paper. The book was dedicated to Bessie’s niece, Marion Coleman and her family. Marion’s personal recollections of her Aunt Bessie helped shape this wonderful book for young readers. This book contains a lot of valuable information about Bessie Coleman, from being a young girl who wanted to be somebody to being a fearless flyer who made her nation proud. Bessie is a good role model for kids with low self-esteem and those who feel that they wouldn’t amount to anything. Her difficult early years transformed her into a daring pilot that she grew up to be, and this ability to overcome life’s struggles is important for children to learn.
Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart
Written by: Julie Cummins
Illustrated by: Malene R. Laugesen
Published by: Roaring Book Press (2013)
Book borrowed from Medina County Public Library.
Book photos by me.
“American women would become fighter pilots in the future.” — Ruth Elder
In Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart, Julie Cummins focused on Ruth Elder’s flourishing career as an aviatrix. Ruth Elder was known as the Miss America of Aviation. Malene R. Laugesen has captured Ruth’s charm and beauty in her illustrations. She was a darling and more. As young as twenty-three years old, Ruth wanted to follow the steps of Charles Lindbergh and become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. She was determined to prove that women could also be behind the wheels and not just the kitchen.
The book also briefly mentioned Ruth’s Hollywood career and how she appeared in two silent movies. Ruth’s Hollywood stint and the mechanical problems she encountered during the early part of her flying career did not stop her from joining the cross-country air race where Amelia Earhart also participated. Although she did not win first place in said race, Ruth took pride in her skills as an aviatrix and how she was among the group of women who changed aviation history. The illustrations were gorgeous. I love how Ruth’s sparkling personality was reflected on the pages and throughout her aviation career. Her strong will and determination made her even more beautiful in the eyes of the people.
Written by: Tami Lewis Brown
Illustrated by: Francois Roca
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux (2010)
Book borrowed from Peninsula Library.
Book photos by me.
“I knew from age six that I wanted to fly. Flying was the very breath of life to me and I was successful because I loved it so much.” — Elinor Smith
Soar, Elinor! tells another inspiring story of a female flyer. Elinor Smith has known from a young age that she wanted to fly. At age six, she begged her father to let her hop aboard an airplane. Luckily, Elinor’s father was supportive of her big dream so he let her and her brother Joe ride a plane. This story reminded me of a similar event in Amelia Earhart’s life. Elinor’s mother also understood what it was like to have a dream. She told Elinor that she shouldn’t let anything stop her from achieving her dream. Elinor carried her mother’s words in her heart. Elinor became the youngest flier in America when she earned her pilot’s license at sixteen.
Like other aviatrixes, Elinor Smith was ridiculed for wanting to fly. Some aviators believed that women like her should just stay on the ground. Elinor proved them wrong by flying under four bridges in New York: the Brooklyn, the Manhattan, the Williamsburg, and the Queensboro. The fact that it was illegal for flyers to zip beneath bridges did not deter Elinor. Although the city mayor had to suspend her license, he told her that he admired her bravery to do a stunt like that. Elinor believed that children should be allowed to dream and have the avenue and means to make their dreams come true.