Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Bessie Coleman: Daring Stunt Pilot

Bessie Coleman: Daring Stunt Pilot

Trina Robbins
Illustrator:  Ken Steacy 
Nonfiction graphic novel  Series
For ages 7 to 9
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-0736868518

Bessie Coleman was born into a poor African American family in 1892. She grew up in Texas and like so many others, her family had to struggle to survive. While her siblings were little, Bessie had to stay home from school to take care of them while her mother went to work as a maid. Later she was able to go to school – when there wasn't cotton to pick.

In 1919 Bessie was finally able to escape her life in Texas. She went to Chicago where her two brothers lived. She got a job as a manicurist in a barber shop and a dream that she had had since she was a girl grew in her. Bessie wanted to fly a plane. More and more people were doing it. Women were even doing it. During World War I, a black man became a pilot in the French army, which showed that the color barrier in the skies was startling to crumble. 

Bessie became more determined than ever to learn how to fly, and when she asked a friend for help he suggested that she should go to France, where people were more open minded about women flying. On June 15th 1921, Bessie became the first black woman to get an international flying license.

In this very moving and inspirational story Trina Robbins shows her readers how Bessie Coleman courageously overcame prejudice and racism to fulfill a dream that she cared deeply about. The well written and carefully presented text is set in a graphic novel format, which is sure to appeal to readers who are attracted to books that are rich in illustrations.