BRAVE HARRIET

THE FIRST WOMAN TO FLY THE ENGLISH CHANNEL

As they did in True Heart (1999), Moss and Payne have produced a vivid story, with equally vibrant illustrations, inspired by a historical event. Harriet Quimby was the first woman to fly alone across the English Channel, a feat that went all but unnoticed because it took place on April 16, 1912—the day the Titanic sank. Quimby was already a newspaper reporter, and she became the first American woman to receive a pilot’s license. Told in the first person, much of the description of her brief, cold, and daring flight across the Channel is taken from her own account of it for the New York Herald. Moss weaves a rich tapestry of description for Quimby’s story, full of heightened but crystalline language describing the desire to fly, and the fulfillment of that desire. Payne’s illustrations have wonderful heft and texture and just the right period feel. Details of the “aeroplane” and of the characters’ gesture and dress are done with wit and grace. Aviator Gustav Hamel’s lame-brained plot to impersonate Harriet is straightfowardly presented in the text but with no attempt to hide its foolish sexism. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202380-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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FIVE TRUCKS

Floca (The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish, 1997, etc.) offers a great explication of the small trucks that airline passengers see scurrying around jets on the runways. In brightly painted illustrations and simple descriptions, he introduces each vehicle, explains what it does, and shows it in action, e.g., the truck called the baggage conveyor is shown hoisting suitcases into the belly of the plane. All five trucks’ duties point to a big finale when the plane takes off. Given preschoolers’ well-documented fascination with heavy machinery, this book will strike a chord with young air travelers, and answer the questions of older travelers as well. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2561-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

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