Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Daring Miss Quimby by Suzanne George Whitaker, illustrated by Catherine Stock. Holiday House, $16.95, Ages 7-9.

Pioneer pilot, Harriet Quimby was first a journalist who often followed her magazine stories into daring exploits. This led her to flying lessons, when planes looked like bicycles with wings. Flying was dangerous in the early years of the twentieth century, but ultimately Harriet’s practice helped her succeed in becoming the first woman in the US “to earn a pilot’s license.”
Loving the wild clamor of attention, Harriet designed a purple satin flight suit, which “made her stand out” even more. When she decided she was ready to fly alone across the cold and foggy English Channel with only a compass, she wore the famous purple hooded suit. She was still wearing it when she landed later that morning on a French beach near a fishing village, once again making history for women. Shortly after, she began performing in air shows all over the US until her untimely death.
In this, her first picture book, author Whitaker shares her curiosity and love of flying with readers, writing with deep affection for her subject, adding to the spirit of adventure surrounding Quimby’s life. Well-known illustrator Stock’s pencil and watercolor paintings deliver a sense of Harriet’s vitality and eager audacity in the movement generated by cars, planes, crowds, and even birds as one reads this page-turner biography. A Timeline of Women in Aviation, Suggested Websites, a Selected Bibliography, and an Author’s Note are helpful additions.

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