Reviews for Flying Solo : How Ruth Elder Soared into America's Heart

Booklist Reviews 2013 June #1
Ruth Elder, a contemporary of Amelia Earhart, set her sights on becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. At age 23, and after only a few flying lessons, she and her copilot set forth. Two-thirds of the way into their flight, the gas line sprung a leak, and they were forced to abandon the plane. Fortunately, they were rescued by a nearby ship. In 1929, she and 19 other women (including Earhart) flew solo across the country to prove women can pilot as well as men--and, in this depiction, do it with a few enjoyable comic interludes, too. After landing safely in Cleveland, the ever-optimistic Elder expresses her belief that women would one day become fighter pilots. Laugesen's idyllic paintings capture Elder's beauty and personality while complementing the text. Pair with Daredevil, by Meghan McCarthy, reviewed on this page. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
In 1927, inspired by Charles Lindbergh, Elder took off in the American Girl for Paris. When the plane crashed into the Atlantic, Elder (after her dramatic rescue) became a celebrity. The second half of Cummins's picture book biography recounts Elder's airplane racing adventures. The text captures the feel of the era while pastel illustrations capture the lofty feeling of flying. Reading list, websites.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #5
Before there was Amelia Earhart, there was Ruth Elder, "a beauty queen with a sparkling personality, a smile as bright as a toothpaste ad, and plenty of pluck." In 1927, inspired by aviator Charles Lindbergh's feats and with a mere five months of training, Elder took off in the American Girl for Paris. When the plane malfunctioned and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, Elder (after her dramatic rescue) became a celebrity, in part because of that plucky attitude. In 1929, Elder was one of twenty young women who took part in a cross-country airplane race, dubbed the Powder Puff Derby, and the second half of Cummins's picture book biography recounts Elder's racing adventures. Cummins captures the feel of the era by employing quaint vocabulary such as dillydally and gumption. Laugesen's pastel illustrations capture the lofty feeling of the experience of flying in a small plane and landing in a field, and also pay careful attention to the clothes of the era. This makes a lively and well-researched addition to Women's History Month biographies, with a closing illustration showing little girls inspecting a wall of portraits of aviatrixes, from (according to the key) Elder and Earhart to the first female combat pilots to women astronauts. susan dove lempke Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
A lively biography of a pioneer in women's aviation. In 1927, when flying was still a new phenomenon, 23-year-old Ruth Elder set out to be the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic. She and her instructor embarked on the journey with high hopes, but due to a serious malfunction, they abandoned the plane and were scooped up by a passing ship on its way to Europe. Cummins writes that Ruth "never lost her courage or her lipstick." She made the most of the fame the unsuccessful attempt brought her, even performing in two silent movies, but her heart remained in aviation. In 1929, Ruth placed fifth in a cross-country race with 19 other women. Proud to have finished the course, Ruth accurately predicted that American women would someday be fighter pilots. Cummins' snappy prose captures Ruth's ebullient spirit, and her inclusion of other women acknowledges a community of female pilots often unmentioned in accounts of the most famous female aviator, Amelia Earhart, who is mentioned only briefly here. Laugesen's muted illustrations render details with care, successfully evoking this exciting historical era. Cummins' animated account of early aviator Ruth Elder's struggles and achievements will amuse and inspire girls of all ages. (author's note, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 6-12) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #1

While Amelia Earhart is a household name, Ruth Elder (1902-1977) is not. Cummins, who wrote about trailblazing women in books like Women Daredevils and Women Explorers, stitches together anecdotes about this female aviator, whose (unsuccessful) attempt to cross the Atlantic predated that of Earhart. Throughout, Cummins makes clear the kind of dismissive attitudes female pilots faced. "Most people, men and women, believed that a woman belonged in the kitchen and not a cockpit," she writes. And in 1929, when 20 pilots including Elder took part in an all-women air race, a reporter grouses, "The only thing worse than dames in planes is dames racing planes." While Laugesen's smudgy illustrations don't generate much of a sense of action, Elder and her fellow pioneers come across as plenty heroic. Additional facts and resources wrap up this quick overview of Elder's life. Ages 6-9. (July)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 July

Gr 2-5--Move over, Amelia…readers are about to meet Ruth Elder, Earhart's contemporary and fellow aviatrix. Inspired by Charles Lindbergh's solo Atlantic flight, Elder was determined to be the first woman to accomplish the same feat. "In 1927….Most people…believed that a woman belonged in the kitchen and not in a cockpit!" Undaunted, the stylish beauty queen and silent-movie actress was also a daredevil. Though a ruptured oil line left her and her copilot in the ocean, her plane in flames, "she never lost her courage or her lipstick." A few years later, she and 19 other women flyers, including Earhart, raced from Santa Monica to Cleveland, "…using only roadmaps and their own two eyes to find their way." While she lost her maps to heavy winds, and a forced landing caused a run-in with some cattle and a farmer's wife, she still managed to finish fifth. The clever, anecdotal text and vibrant spreads of the colorful planes and period costumes transport readers to another era, glamorous, yet restrictive toward the "fairer sex." Elder predicted that one day women would be fighter pilots…and she was right. An author's note and comprehensive source list are appended. Pair this offering with Marissa Moss's Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee (Tricycle, 2009) for a soaring look at women's history.--Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools

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