Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? This is a detailed and comprehensive biography of the famous aviatrix, beginning with her privileged upbringing in Atchison, Kansas, through the varying fortunes of her teenage years and young adulthood, to her rise to fame in the 1930s before her 1937 disappearance. Equal emphasis is given to Earhart’s well-known adventurous, rule-defying spirit and to her intelligence and attention to detail. She was an avid reader, a capable student, and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights who dabbled in nursing during World War I and later considered becoming a teacher. After attending airshows with her father, however, her fate was sealed and she began to actively pursue her career and her calling as a pilot.
This biography paints a picture of one of America’s most famous women, while also providing the necessary historical context to understand her story – the first World War, the advent of airplanes and air travel, the roles and expectations of women, and the Great Depression. It is well-written and straightforward, and does not shy away from some difficult aspects, including Earhart’s father’s struggle with alcoholism and the family’s financial troubles (the only thing that doesn’t come up is the theory that Earhart was having an affair with her navigator at the time they disappeared). Abundant black and white illustrations enhance the text; there is a useful sequence of maps highlighting her route on her final flight. Lots of interesting and useful backmatter is appended, such as a page spread that shares some of the more popular theories about the disappearance, and a lot of detail regarding what happened in the years afterward. Readers will also appreciate the thorough timeline, list of further reading and websites, glossary and index.
Anything you did not like about the book? The Trailblazers series has a cluttered layout, which puts fact boxes and sidebars on nearly every page spread. These include biographical sketches of other ‘Famous Fliers’ of the time period, as well as technical details of some of Earhart’s ‘Great Planes’ – which will be distracting to readers looking to follow Earhart’s narrative straight through. Much of the information in these text features would be just as appropriate to include with the backmatter.
To whom would you recommend this book? Highly recommended for upper elementary researchers working on a biography project, and for Earhart aficionados who may just learn some new details about her life in this book.
Who should buy this book? Public, elementary and middle school libraries; biography collections for classrooms grades 4-6
Where would you shelve it? Biography
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: 4/9/2021