Beyond Amelia: Picture Books About Women In Aviation

It's that time once again!  March is Women's History Month, and here on Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes, I plan to devote some time here and there to some of the books I'm reading with my daughters.  To kick things off, I want to highlight some picture books about Little Sis's favorite topic:  FLYING!  IN AIRPLANES!

I have covered my youngest daughter's fascination with Amelia Earhart before, but in honor of Women's History Month, I wanted to expose her to some other daring women in planes.  Then A Mighty Girl, one of the best resources for cool girls' stuff on the web, posted this picture of Amelia on Facebook.  Sure enough, this week, March 3-9, is Women In Aviation Worldwide Week!  How awesome (and timely) is that!

Over the last couple of evenings, we have read five picture books about three female pilots.  [There is one more book that we are still waiting for, but I wanted to get this post done before the end of the week.]

We read:

Ruth Law Thrills A Nation by Don Brown.
HMH Books for Young Readers, 1993.

Ruth Law set out to accomplish something that had never been accomplished before. She wanted to fly from Chicago to New York City in one day.  The year was 1916, and the existing record for one continuous flight was 452 miles, set by a man. Ruth didn't make it to New York City - nightfall hit, and Ruth's plane had no lights, as she had to make room for extra fuel. However, she did set a new record: She flew 590 miles in one day!  {Watch the Reading Rainbow segment on Vimeo.}

Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Carl Angel. Tricycle Press, 2009. 

Maggie Gee grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. As a girl, her family would go to the Oakland airport just to watch the planes, and Maggie would dream of someday spotting her hero, Amelia Earhart.  During WWII, Maggie's mother went to work in a factory, and Maggie dropped out of college to become one of only two Chinese-American women to serve in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).  While she couldn't fight, she helped train male pilots for combat.  This book has lovely pictures.  It is Little Sis's favorite of the bunch, by the way.

 From left to right:  Nobody Owns the Sky by Reeve Lindberg [Candlewick Press, 1998];
Fly, Bessie, Fly by Lynn Joseph, illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan
[Simon & Schuster, 1998]; 
and Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizaeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by E.G. Lewis. 

We read three books about Bessie Coleman, the first black female aviator, and the first African-American aviator period.  I grouped them in order of simplest to most complex, in terms of text.  Nobody Owns the Sky has the distinction of being written by Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.  The book is written in rhyming verse, and written well - of course, Reeve Lindbergh's mother was quite a writer, as well.  Fly, Bessie, Fly is written more plainly, with quite a bit more text.  The illustrations are bright and cheerful.  Talkin' About Bessie is the most beautiful of the three books.  The illustrations are gorgeous.  The book is told in free verse, with different people from Bessie Coleman's life taking a page to tell her story.  The words are imagined, but the device works well, especially for older children.  As for Bessie herself, she was born in Texas, and spent her childhood picking cotton when she wasn't in school.  She ran out of money for college, so she followed her brothers to Chicago.  Upon hearing her brothers' stories of the female French pilots they encountered during WWI, she decided to become a pilot.  No flight school in the U.S. would teach her, so she learned a little French and went to France to earn her pilot's license.  She returned home, and took on barnstorming tours and lectures, saving to someday open a flight school for African-Americans.  Alas, she died before she could make the school a reality, thrown from a crashing plane in 1926.

We are still waiting on one more book to come in to our branch of the library.

Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy.  Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2013.

There are samples of the book at the Simon & Schuster website, and lots of activities and info at Meghan McCarthy's website, too.

According to Wikipedia: "Betty Skelton Erde was a land speed record holder and aerobatics pilot who set 17 aviation and automobile records. She was known as The First Lady of Firsts, and helped create opportunities for women in aviation, auto racing, astronautics and advertising."  

I'm excited to read this one!  Until then, here is a great book trailer!

Thanks for joining us for our first Women's History Month post of 2014!  There is lots more history to come!  Until then, Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children/Hollow City

Sitting on my nightstand, waiting for its turn was Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. After reading Wildwood Imperium last week, trying to remember all the details of the second book in that series, I decided to re-read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  After all, over two years had passed since that book's publication, and I knew I would need the refresher.  I'm so glad I did, and I must say, I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
Quirk Books, 2011.

If you are not familiar with Ransom Riggs's novels, you should know that they hinge upon a rather ingenious device.  Written for a YA audience, the first book introduces us to a home for children and teens with unusual abilities or features, hidden in a time loop on a tiny Welsh island.  Thanks to Miss Peregrine, a caretaker who can assume the shape of a bird, the children repeat the same day, over and over, in 1940. The day ends with the bombing of the house, then resets.  A teenage boy from the present, Jacob, after witnessing the violent death of his beloved grandfather in Florida, is drawn to visit the island and patch together the mystery of his grandfather's last words.  He finds himself traveling back in time through the loop, meeting Miss Peregrine and his grandfather's friends. The ingenious part is that the story is illustrated throughout by "found" photographs:  old snapshots collected over the years by various people.  Many feature quirky or trick photography, such as the levitating child on the cover of the book.  The photographs give the book a haunting quality.  I love old photographs like these anyway, so of course, this appeals to me.

The book is tight and suspenseful, and it didn't take me very long to read it again. I was able to move on to the sequel the next day.

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
Quirk Books, 2014.

At the end of the first book, the children are forced out of the loop by the bad guys, the hollows and wights, scary creatures out to devour peculiars.  Miss Peregrine is trapped in her bird form.  The children venture out, meeting a menagerie of peculiar animals in another loop, a band of kind Gypsies [Riggs's word, for anyone who protests the political incorrectness of the term], and assorted peculiars, in and out of time, in scary war-torn London.  Now the dangers have multiplied.  Besides being pursued by wights and hollows, the children must also survive air raids.  This particular book is darker and more suspenseful, and ends with a definite cliffhanger.  Here's hoping the third book in the series doesn't take as long to write!

Ransom Riggs has also written a book about collecting found photographs, called Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued From the Past.  I have just placed a hold on it from the library.  You can browse inside at the HarperCollins website.

Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued From the Past
by Ransom Riggs.  It Books, 2012.

Tomorrow, I will have our first round of Women's History Month goodies for you.  Did you know that this week is Women in Aviation Worldwide Week?  (Thanks, A Mighty Girl, for letting me know!)  And guess what our first round of books is about...

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Kansas Silent Film Festival 2014

So Friday afternoon, I picked Big Sis up from school.  (Little Sis was sick at home.)  We rushed to the library to find an audio book...

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry.
HarperCollins, 1999.  This is a fantastic audio book.  We are on the waiting list for the next two in the series!

And we drove two hours to the state capital, Topeka, for the 18th Annual Kansas Silent Film Festival!

We saw some shorts and a Colleen Moore movie, then decided to skip the evening's final offering in order to check into our hotel.  We weren't sure what Saturday would bring, weather-wise.

On our way to the hotel, Big Sis asked if we could go bowling.  I said, "Um, no way," but I did pull into the parking lot to take some pictures of the amazingly cool signs.  I am a geek like that.

Look at all that fabulous neon!

Saturday morning, we returned to the Washburn University campus to catch the morning's entertainment, which was already being shuffled around, in order for the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra to be able to hightail it home to Colorado before the storm hit.  A big one was predicted, although the weather advisory for Topeka wasn't supposed to go into effect until 6 PM.

Heading to lunch, I called home to inquire about the weather in Wichita.  Mr. B told me the sleet had already started.  Drat.

We decided to play it safe and head home.  The fact that Big Sis had started coughing heavily overnight aided in our decision. We took an extra-long lunch at Via's Pizzeria (YUM), then hopped back on the turnpike.

As consolation, we did stop at one of the new Hardee's/Dunkin Donuts service stations, scoring some donuts and coffee to ease the disappointment.

That evening, at home in our warm house with the fireplace crackling, we watched the concluding film of the festival, Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times.

Here is Modern Times on YouTube.  This one is a great introduction
to silent film for grade school-aged kids.  It was made well into the sound era,
and features its own built-in musical score (by Chaplin) and sound effects.
It is also streaming on Hulu, and on DVD.

It was disappointing to see so little this year, but last year, we were completely snowed in and unable to attend at all.  And we did get to see some treats this year.  Here is a small sample:

"Felix in Hollywood," 1923.  Big Sis had already seen this one many times!

A scene from Ella Cinders, starring Colleen Moore (1926).  

"The Enchanted Drawing," by J. Stuart Blackton for Edison Studios, 1900.

A scene from The Patsy, starring Marion Davies, directed by King Vidor (1928).
In this scene, Marion's Pat impersonates three well-known film stars:
Mae Murray, Lillian Gish, and Pola Negri.  I've seen this one on TCM
several times.  It's adorable.

We will try again next year, of course.  Until then, we will remember to smile!

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow...

Hello, my dears!  We are experiencing yet another snow day here in Doo-Dah.  The girls have both been sick, so for us, it is a bit of a blessing, although I sure would appreciate some warmer temperatures.  And this is coming from someone who loves snow!  And winter!  But I don't love 10 degree highs.  Nope.

I have some stuff to share with you this week, including our (sadly shortened) trip to the Kansas Silent Film Festival, but today I am guesting over at Bookworm's Diary, a wonderful Czech blog.  My contribution is similar to this post, with a few additions.  If you haven't visited Bookworm's Diary yet, be sure to stick around and check it out!

Stay warm, friends!

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