Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer

Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer

Jane Moore Howe
Illustrator:  Cathy Morrison 
For ages 7 to 9
Patria Press, 1999   ISBN: 978-1882859023

From the very beginning Amelia Earhart was not like the other little girls. Amelia was determined, brave, adventurous, and she was not willing to be told that she could not do something just because she was a girl. In fact she frequently got into scrapes because of her certainty that girls could do anything just as well as any boy, if not better.

The problem was that Amelia lived in a time when girls were expected to wear dresses, play nicely with their dolls, and to grow up to become wives and mother. Girls were not supposed to climb trees, use sleds that were made for boys, wear trousers, or build a roller coaster. Amelia did in fact build a roller coaster, what she called a "rolly coaster" to the horror of her grandparents. In fact Amelia’s poor grandparents had many such moments. It was these good kind old-fashioned people who raised Amelia for several years when she and her sister Muriel were small. Amelia’s father had to keep moving around for work and his wife when with him. Therefore it was decided that the girls would stay with their grandparents until Mr. Earhart could find a more settled job.

The Earhart sisters had a pleasant early childhood with their grandparents, developing strong friendships, enjoying traditional pastimes, and going to school regularly. Later on Amelia’s life became much more complicated, more unsettled, and it took her a while to figure out what she wanted to do. After serving as a nurse during World War I and after attending college Amelia decided that she wanted to fly an airplane and with her typical determination and good humor she set about doing what she could to get her dream.

What this engaging little book does so well is to show us how the young Amelia developed, where she got her ideas from, and how she became the kind of person who could fly the Atlantic Ocean solo in a little plane, buffeted by storms. Her adult choices were very much influenced by the decisions and ideas that she got when she was a willful little girl.