You Can Fly

The Tuskegee Airmen

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
(published 5.3.2016)
96 pages
Ages 9 - 12

A True Tale
with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Carole Boston Weatherford
      and Illustrator: Jeffery Boston Weatherford

C haracters: The Tuskegee Airmen

O verview from the jacket flap:

    "I WANT YOU! says the poster of Uncle Sam. But if you're a young black man in 1940, he doesn't want you in the cockpit of a warplane. Yet you are determined not to let that stop your dream of flying.
     So when you hear about a civilian pilot training program at Tuskegee Institute, you leap at the chance. Soon you are learning engineering and mechanics, how to communicate in code, how to read a map. At last the day you have longed for is here: You are flying!
     From training days in Alabama to combat on the front lines in Europe, this is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the pioneering African-American pilots of World War II. In vibrant second-person poems that allow readers to fly too, award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford teams up for the first time with her son, artist Jeffery Boston Weatherford, to tell the story of these men who triumphed in the skies and over the color barrier."

T antalizing taste:

No Hero's Welcome

No use candy-coating the truth:
Gasoline and sugar were rationed
during the war, and metal was reserved
for the defense industry,
but racism was never in short supply.
There was plenty of prejudice to go around
and you don't have to look far to find it
even after you get home.

You pass through South Carolina;
you see places that bar blacks
serving German prisoners of war.
You get wind of the Freeman Field Mutiny:
Pilots from the 477th Bombardment Group,
who never got to see combat before war's end,
got arrested in Indiana for storming 
into the all-white officers' club.

Your fight is by no means finished." 

and something more:  I was honored to be asked by Carole Boston Weatherford to feature her compelling book, YOU CAN FLY, on my blog as part of her blog book tour. She shared interesting information about the book:

"I had not heard of the Tuskegee Airmen until I was in my mid-twenties. I was in awe. Thirty years later I decided to write about these American heroes. I am still amazed by the barriers that they overcame and the battles that they won.

I wanted the verse novel to unfold like a newsreel or a graphic novel. Dramatic scratchboard illustrations by my son Jeffery Weatherford create that effect, evoking the World War II era.

The Tuskegee Airmen—pilots and ground crew—are truly American heroes, deserving wider recognition. I hope that You Can Fly helps achieve that."

Carole's "10 Things I Learned About the Tuskegee Airmen":

* Before the Tuskegee Experiment began, there were only 130 licensed African American pilots in the U.S.

* After a plane ride with Tuskegee flight instructor Chief Anderson, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You can fly.” She swayed her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt to authorize the Tuskegee Experiment, giving African Americans a shot at becoming combat pilots.

* Pioneering entertainer Lena Horne made numerous trips—at her own expense—to perform for troops at Tuskegee Army Air Field.

* The Tuskegee Airmen got the name Red Tails when their ground crew painted the tail of the P-47 red. The Nazis called them Black Birdmen/Schwarze Vogelmenshen.

* On July 21, 1943, the Tuskegee Airmen flew 13 missions in one day.

* Of their 205 missions, the Tuskegee Airmen flew 200 without losing a bomber.

* In 1,500 combat missions, Tuskegee Airmen blasted 262 German planes, 950 vehicles and one enemy destroyer.

* Of nearly 1,000 Tuskegee pilots, half went overseas and fewer than 10 were captured or killed.

* Tuskegee Airman Lee Archer Jr., an ace pilot, shot down four enemy planes.

* The Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George Bush in 2007.

Carole also shared her book trailer and teacher resources. 

And kudos to Reka Simonsen, Executive Editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers for this terrific book and thank you for giving me a copy.


Jane @ raincitylibrarian.wordpress.com said...

What an exciting, inspiring true story! As a former history student, I'm always thrilled to see well-done history books that can help young readers get excited about history and connect with the lives of people from different times, so thank you for sharing this, I'll have to keep an eye out for it!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Jane,

Yes, I think you'll find this is an excellent way to connect children to history. The poems are touching and evocative of the times and issues. Thanks for stopping by!

Linda B said...

I recently read American Ace, so know I will enjoy this one very much, too. Thanks, Jeanne.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Linda, Yes, I think you will enjoy it, especially after reading AMERICAN ACE. Thanks for stopping by.