Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Sky Pioneer: A Photobiography of Amelia Earhart

Sky Pioneer: A Photobiography of Amelia Earhart

Corinne Szabo, Linda Finch
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
National Geographic, 2007   ISBN: 978-1426300448

Though their parents were often traveling, Amelia and her sister Muriel were, on the whole, happy girls. When their parents were on the road they enjoyed living with their grandparents in their large home in Atchison, Kansas. Amelia and Muriel had a lot more freedom than many other girls had and they also got to travel all over the country, which was still very much a novelty in those days. In 1908, when Amelia was eleven the girls and their parents were able to settle down, at least for a while, in Des Moines, Iowa, and that same year, at the Iowa State Fair, Amelia saw her first airplane.

While visiting her sister in Toronto in 1917 Amelia took on work in a Red Cross hospital. It was during this time that she had her first contact with pilots and airfields. She watched airplanes taking off and landing and seeing those planes had a profound effect on her. Back in the United States, in California, after the war had ended she began to go to air shows and she took her first ride in an airplane. Then she worked at a telephone company to pay for flying lessons and with her mother’s help she bought her first plane. In the summer of 1923 Amelia got her pilot’s license.

Because of her experience as a pilot Amelia was chosen in 1928 to be the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic. It was a dangerous flight and Amelia was made a big fuss of but she did not think she had earned all the accolade that she received. She wanted to see women as the pilots in important “firsts” and she wanted to be one of those pilots. So in 1928 she became the first woman to make the first solo round-trip flight across the United States. On May 20th, 1932, Amelia began the flight across the Atlantic that would make her world famous.

This particular ‘first’ launched Amelia in a whirlwind career of flying, public speaking, publishing, and teaching. She was particularly proud of her teaching job at Purdue University where she was able to make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of young women. Amelia still had one ‘first’ which she wanted to complete – to fly around the world along the Equator in her “flying laboratory,” a plane which was built just for her. The trip had its problems but Amelia was doing very well until she began the leg from New Guinea to Howland Island in the Pacific. Somewhere between these two places Amelia’s plane disappeared. It has never been found.

In this very interesting and well presented book readers will get a clear and well rounded picture of what Amelia Earhart was like both professionally and personally. Wonderful annotated photographs capture special moments in Amelia’s life, while quotes from her writings give readers a more private picture of what Amelia was like on the inside. Though there can be no doubt that she loved to fly and was excited by the challenge to do something that had never been done before, she was also dedicated to the cause of women’s rights and she never forget this cause, using her fame to speak up for all women whenever she could.