Born to Fly: The First Women’s Air Race Across America by Steve Sheinkin, illustrated by Bijou Karmans

Published by Roaring Brook Press

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Summary:  In 1929, women pilots competed in the Air Derby, the first all-female cross-country race, to see who could be the first to fly from Santa Monica, California to Cleveland, Ohio.  The most famous was Amelia Earhart, but all the women had broken multiple barriers to learn how to fly, and many held records for speed, height, endurance, and long-distance flights.  Starting with a childhood frequently spent jumping off roofs or other high places, Steve Sheinkin traces how each of the women got to the race, then follows the pilots on their nine-day journey.  There were suspicions of sabotage as planes were wrecked and one pilot died, but all the women were determined to see it through. “They started by jumping off roofs. They wound up kicking down doors–for themselves, and everyone else.”  Includes extensive source notes, works cited, and index. 288 pages (60 pages is notes, citations, and index); grades 5-8.

Pros:  Steve Sheinkin does it again, writing a nonfiction book that reads like a novel.  I wasn’t all that excited about starting this book, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.  Readers will learn that there were many women–not just Amelia Earhart–who defied the social norms to follow their passion for flying.  Lots of illustrations and photos enhance the text.

Cons:  There were so many different pilots to keep track of, some with the same first name, that I sometimes had trouble keeping everyone straight.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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