Published by Crown Books
Summary: From the time he was a child, James Banning dreamed about flying, pursuing that dream during trips to the library and on a visit to see a real flying machine in 1911. As an adult, he became a car mechanic, but was always looking for an opportunity to learn to fly. He finally got a pilot’s license, then set his sights on becoming the first Black person to fly across the United States. Teaming up with mechanic Thomas Cox Allen, he set off in a dilapidated plane with a 14-year-old engine. That engine died quite a few times along the way, but on October 9, 1932, the two men flew their plane around the Statue of Liberty. That night they celebrated with some of the stars of Harlem, having become stars themselves with their achievement. Includes an author’s note and a list of sources. 48 pages; grades 1-5.
Pros: A little-known aviation pioneer gets his due in this beautifully illustrated book that celebrates James Banning’s life and accomplishments. Although Floyd Cooper passed away in July, his work continues to inspire and will hopefully receive some award recognition.
Cons: It’s a long book if you’re planning to read it out loud. Also, I was wondering why the British spelling “aeroplane” was used throughout the book.