The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee is a picture book for young readers that recounts the true story life and career of American hero Hazel Ying Lee, the first Asian American woman to pilot planes for the U.S. military. From an early age, Hazel is bold, brave, and resists any box society wants to put her in, though she takes a job as an elevator operator to pay for her flying lessons. She then tests fighter jets right off the assembly line and is one of the only 132 women to be given "flying pursuit" status (meaning she can fly fighter jets). One scene shows a male farmer with a pitchfork chasing a young woman across a field. Another scene vividly show bombs exploding on a ship in the distance. A story is told of two planes crashing and a young woman dying, though nothing is shown. Some younger readers might be challenged by the vocabulary ("manufacturing," "begrudgingly," "miscommunication," "philosophy"), but the positive themes and messages of bravery, anti-sexism, and anti-racism, and changing the world make the challenge well worth it. An author's note gives more biographical information about Lee.
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What's the Story?
THE FEARLESS FLIGHTS OF HAZEL YING LEE recounts the life and career of Hazel Ying Lee, the first Asian American woman U.S. military pilot. Even though Lee and other women in the Women's Airforce Servicing Pilot program were technically considered civilians, history now recognizes Lee as an American pioneer and hero.
Is It Any Good?
This young reader picture book biography is beautiful, colorful, and features Asian American faces on almost every page. The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee has a positive and strong Asian American girl role model who defies stereotypical gender roles and attitudes, resists racist reactions to her becoming an American military pilot, and faces danger and risk in order to serve her country. From her mother telling her that flying isn't "ladylike" to a farmer mistaking her for a Japanese enemy combatant, this book gives young readers a positive historical example of Asian American success, influence, and impact. And sadly, given what this book calls the "invisible" roles given to people of color and women, stories like Lee's become even more important given the fact that Asian Americans have been and continue to be often invisible in American society, history, and life. The author's note at the back of the book helps further detail and contextualize Lee's life.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how much has changed since the events inThe Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee. The book highlights some of the unfair things Hazel had to go through before fulfilling her dream of becoming a pilot. Do you think Asian American women pilots today face similar challenges? Have things gotten better?
How does Hazel face the difficult challenges of her day? What attitude about herself does she seem to have?
Have you ever thought about becoming a pilot? What kind?
- Author: Julie Leung
- Illustrator: Julie Kwon
- Genre: History
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: February 2, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 48
- Available on: Hardback
- Last updated: April 7, 2021
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