Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Aim for the Skies: Jerrie Mock and Joan Merriam Smith's Race to Complete Amelia Earhart's Quest

Aim for the Skies: Jerrie Mock and Joan Merriam Smith's Race to Complete Amelia Earhart's Quest

Aimee Bissonette
Illustrator:  Doris Ettlinger 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018   ISBN: 978-1585363810

Jerrie Mack is only seven years old when she takes her first ride in an airplane. She is so taken with the experience that she decides there and then that she is going to be pilot.

Joan Merriam is fifteen when she takes her first plane ride in 1952. When the plane lands Joan tells her mother that she wants to learn how to fly a plane, and she ends up getting her pilot’s license before she even learns how to drive a car.

Both women dream of becoming a record-breaking pilot like Amelia Earhart, and when Joan is twenty-three and Jerrie is thirty-seven they both decide that what they want to do next is to fly around the world.

Jerrie and Joan set about preparing for their epic journeys. Maps have to be studied and flight plans have to be drawn up. Permission has to be granted by the governments of the countries that they will be visiting. The interesting thing is that the women do not know each other. Joan does not know what Jerrie is planning, and Jerrie has no idea what Joan is up to.

Then, just a few weeks before they are supposed to set off on their epic flight, the women hear about each other. It looks as if their dreams to complete the journey that Amelia Earhart was not able to finish have been turned into a race.

On March 17th, 1964 Joan’s plane takes off from an airport in Oakland, California. Just two days later Jerrie takes to the skies. The women have different planes and they are taking different routes. Truly remarkable adventures that are full of problems and dangers lie ahead of them.

This is the fascinating true story of two women who both greatly admired Amelia Earhart and who both decided, independently, to follow in the footsteps of the famous aviator. The narrative gives us a picture of what the two women were like, and we come to appreciate how difficult and dangerous their journey was. This story is a tribute to the two aviators, and it is also a tribute to the woman who inspired them.