Reviews for Fly High! the Story of Bessie Coleman : The Story of Bessie Coleman


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 February 2001
Ages 6-9. This short, highly illustrated biography introduces aviatrix Bessie Coleman, who in 1921 became the first African American with a pilot's license. Coleman, who picked cotton as a child in Texas, moved to Chicago as a young woman and was seized with the desire to fly an airplane. When that opportunity was denied to her in America, she saved her money, learned French, and moved to France, where she earned an international pilot's license. Throughout the text, the authors emphasize Coleman's determination to "be somebody," a resounding inspirational message for youngsters. The writing is clear and informative. Even the potentially difficult section on Coleman's death in a plane crash is handled with plainspoken dignity. Flavin contributes a series of soft-edged gouache paintings that express beauty and harmony in every aspect of Coleman's life. Pair this with Reeve Lindbergh's Nobody Owns the Sky (1996) for the same age group. ((Reviewed February 15, 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall
The story of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman pilot, is told in sometimes stilted free verse, with brightly colored, simple gouache illustrations that depict scenes from her life. Bessie's commitment to her goal and willingness to work hard to achieve it are highlighted in the lengthy yet fast-moving narrative, which concludes with her tragic death in 1926 at the age of thirty-four. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2001 January #1
Borden (Good Luck, Mrs. K!, 1999, etc.) and Kroeger collaborate for the second time (Paperboy, 1996) in this easy biography of the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. Bessie Coleman was born in 1892, and despite an impoverished childhood and limited education, she became determined to make her mark on the world by learning to fly. Remarkably, she saved enough money to travel to France, the only place where an African-American woman could study aviation, and she earned an international pilot's license in 1921. She performed at air shows throughout the US, always urging young African-Americans to "fly high" and "be somebody." Coleman was planning to open her own flight school when she died in a plane crash at the age of 34. Her story is told in a positive, forthright style that reflects Coleman's lifelong self-education through reading and additional adult-education classes and her strong will to succeed, with an obvious but not preachy message that attitude plus aptitude equals altitude. Flavin's bright gouache paintings help bring Bessie and her era to life, with carefully researched costumes, airplanes, and backgrounds adding to the authenticity of the story. Readers who can't handle longer chapter-format biographies will fly right throughthis thoughtfully designed book, aided by lots of illustrations, short line length, and plentiful white space surrounding the interesting text. Most libraries will want to make room on the biography shelves for this one, which will be useful during BlackHistory Month and for those inevitable biography book-reports. (author's note) (Biography. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications All right reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 December #1
Written for an older audience than aimed for in either Lynn Joseph's Fly, Bessie, Fly or Reeve Lindbergh's Nobody Owns the Sky!: The Story of `Brave Bessie' Coleman, this informative and insightful picture-book biography of the African-American aviator merits attention. Borden and Kroeger, co-authors of Paperboy, stress the adversities of Bessie Coleman's childhood in rural Texas at the turn of the 20th century and emphasize her extraordinary perseverance. As a girl, Bessie struggles to get an education, even when she must pick cotton instead of attending school; later, at 18, Bessie enrolls in "catch-up classes" and is placed in sixth grade at a private college, but her money runs out after only one term. Undefeated in her determination to become "somebody," Bessie eventually moves to Chicago in 1915 and, later, learns of French women who piloted planes during WWI. From that point on, Bessie resolves to fly; when no American pilots agree to teach her, she saves up money and enrolls at a school in France, becoming the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. At once breezy and grounded, the rhythmic text is arranged in short, verse-like lines, which should encourage reluctant readers to climb on board. Flavin's (Pushing Up the Sky) pebbly gouaches are atmospheric if a bit stiff, capitalizing on Borden and Kroeger's optimism. A flight well worth taking. Ages 9-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2001 January
K-Gr 4-The authors' flair for imparting history soars in this biography of the first African American to earn a pilot's license. From her difficult childhood spent picking cotton in Texas to her grand achievements in aviation, Coleman's personality shines through. The warm illustrations done in gouache on colored paper mix exciting images of the aviator flying her plane with quieter glimpses of her interacting with friends and family members. The straightforward sentence structure keeps the action moving and will capture reluctant readers. Coleman's affinity for children will captivate youngsters, who will freely mourn the early demise of the "tr s chic! aviatrix" who often told others, "You can be somebody, too." A first-rate follow-up to Borden's Good-Bye, Charles Lindbergh (McElderry, 1998).-Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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