October 8, 2012

Bessie Coleman: pioneering aviator

Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman
by Louise Borden & Mary Kay Kroeger
illustrated by Teresa Flavin

Bessie Coleman yearned to be somebody. But at the time (pre-World War I), choices were very limited for  women, especially African-American women. That didn't stop Bessie. Upon learning that there were women pilots in France, Bessie wanted to fly too. Fly High! tells the story of Bessie Coleman and how she became the first African-American pilot. Told in free verse, with brightly-coloured pictures, this is a good introduction to a spirited aviator.

Talkin' 'Bout Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Poet Nikki Grimes has crafted an intelligent, dignified biography of Coleman in this wonderful book. Although fictional, the story is based upon the actual words of Coleman's friends, family, and acquaintances. Each person reveals different aspects of Coleman's personality, giving a more complete picture of Queen Bess. Grimes' evocative words are enhanced by the expression and depth of E.B. Lewis' paintings.

A woman of great ambition, Bessie's  determination, intelligence, stubbornness, and courage inspired a generation of African-American aviators. Grimes gives the last word to Bessie herself: 

You have never lived
until you have flown!

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