Soar, Elinor!

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday
hosted today by Picture Book of the Day

Farrar Straus Giroux (pub. 10.12.2010)
40 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top
              and Illustrator:  FRANCOIS ROCA

C haracter: Elinor Smith, pilot and aviation pioneer

O verview from book flap:
     "Plucky Elinor Smith was six years old when she first went for a ride in a rickety 'flying machine.' At ten, she was taking flying lessons ...  By the time she was seventeen, she had become the youngest licensed pilot in the United States, male or female, and earned the respect of famous pilots like Charles Lindbergh. 
     Elinor dreamed of making her living as a professional pilot, but not everyone thought that girls should fly.  When male pilots and newspapermen mocked her, Elinor decided to perform an aerial maneuver they thought was impossible.  It would take training and preparation.  But this aviation pioneer was determined to show that with talent, hard work, and plenty of grit, a girl could climb to any height."

T antalizing taste:
     "She'd learned to land only ten days before.  Was she ready to fly alone?  'It's now or never,' she thought as she taxied down the runway.
     She climbed to 1,000 feet and leveled off. 'In that instant,' she said, 'I knew I was home and would never turn back.' She practiced banking turns, then glided in to land with a gentle bump.
     She had done it! She had soloed!
     From that moment, Elinor lived to fly.  The sky was her playing field; the hum of the wind rushing through her plane's wing wires, her favorite song...
     At sixteen, she was the youngest flier in the United Sates - boy or girl.
     Soar, soar, Elinor!"

and something more:  The picture book biography, Soar, Elinor!, is the perfect book to begin this month's celebration of Women's History Month.  Elinor Smith flew through the glass ceiling when she fulfilled her dream to become a professional pilot and, in a male dominated field, was named chief test pilot for the Bellanca Corporation, piloted jets and flew paratrooper training missions with the Air Force Association.  And, in 2000 at age 89, she became the oldest person to 'fly' the NASA Space Shuttle Simulator. 
     A Women's History Month Activity Kit and Teachers Curriculum Guide based on the book are available on the website of the author, Tami Lewis Brown, an attorney and pilot also.  The Women's History Month Activity Kit includes a "Guess the Women in History Quiz", a list of other books to celebrate Women's History Month, a word search, a board game, and a crossword puzzle.  And, my favorite section of the Activity Kit is the interview with the author and a photo of her with Elinor at age 96.  The author had the opportunity to interview Elinor Smith for hours which added such depth and interest to this inspirational book.  As Tami Lewis Brown said, "In 1930, The New Yorker Magazine published an article calling Elinor Smith a 'feminist.' Girls like Elinor broke down barriers that gave modern girls the chance to be whatever they want to be."  As Elinor Smith said, "Children must be allowed to dream and have a horizon to work toward."  
     Elinor truly soared!

No comments: