Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Review: Born to Fly: The First Women's Air Race Across America by Steve Sheinkin

Can we all agree, Steve Sheinkin is just the best when it comes to kids' nonfiction? I think it's just not even a contest. But this book sure was! It's about the first women's air race!

Amelia Earhart may be the only women from the early days of flight who we can name today but she was by no means the first, the fastest, or the best. Yes, she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Did you know on that first flight, she was a passenger, not a pilot? She was recruited to do it, and while the pilot was paid $20,000 and the mechanic was paid $5000, she was paid zero. (She did later become the first woman to pilot a plane across the Atlantic also. Those two records are often confused/conflated.)

But this book is about so much more! It's about Marvel Crosson (her real name, not a nickname!) and Louise Thaden and Elinor Smith and a dozen more women pilots of the 1910s and 1920s. This race took place in 1929, in a time when it took 4 days to fly halfway across the country. It started in California and ended in Ohio and the race lasted 9 days. These women were badasses. At a time when flight was still experimental and incredibly dangerous, they faced sexism, some outright laws against them, and they did it all better than the men (not that anyone seemed to notice that! But the number of deaths and injuries was way, way below what it was in men's air races.) Riveting, fascinating, and just plain fun.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Roaring Brook, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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