Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer

Book review by
Sally Snyder, Common Sense Media
Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer Book Poster Image
Competent but drab Earhart bio.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

She builds and rides her own little roller coaster, which begins on a roof.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that interesting incidents in Earhart's childhood are conveyed through competent writing, but the illustrations are drab. Her sense of adventure will attract kids' interest.

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What's the story?

The author expands and fictionalizes a series of episodes in Amelia Earhart's childhood, starting at age seven. The stories continue through Earhart's eighth-grade graduation and include building a roller coaster from the top of a shed to the ground, exploring a riverside cave where girls are not allowed to go, and coasting \"belly whopper\" on a sled down a steep, icy hill. The author notes in an afterword that she specifically hunted for incidents in Earhart's life that demonstrated courage..

The final three chapters include some scenes from her adult life, such as learning to fly and her first solo flight. Three of Earhart's major accomplishments are listed at book's end. The author concludes with the aviator's unsolved disappearance over the Pacific Ocean.

Is it any good?

This is a superior account of the aviator's life. Long before girl power was a concept, Amelia Earhart rode a homemade roller coaster, rescued neighbors from an angry dog, took a wild sled ride, and explored the Kansas countryside. Originally published as Amelia Earhart: Kansas Girl, this newly edited version is the first in a the Young Patriots series. Author Jane Moore Howe extols the wholesome atmosphere of early 1900s life in Atchison, Kansas, where Earhart is an adventurous, lively girl eagerly looking beyond societal barriers, though she is portrayed as obedient (usually!) and empathetic.

Children may ask why Earhart and her sister lived with their grandparents from 1904 to 1910. The author explains that her father's work involves frequent travel, and Mama and Papa visit once at Christmas, but little else is mentioned. Also, poorly drawn pencil sketches undermine the engaging story and are sometimes carelessly inaccurate. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Amelia Earhart was different from her peers at the time. Do you think she would fit in better with girls today? Now that female aviators are no longer unusual, in what areas do you think someone like Earhart could be a pioneer today?

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