Books by Julie Cummins

FLYING SOLO by Julie Cummins
Released: July 9, 2013

"Cummins' animated account of early aviator Ruth Elder's struggles and achievements will amuse and inspire girls of all ages. (author's note, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 6-12)"
A lively biography of a pioneer in women's aviation. Read full book review >
WOMEN EXPLORERS by Julie Cummins
Released: Feb. 16, 2012

"Should attract aspiring adventurers. (author's note and list of additional female explorers; selected bibliography, websites) (Collective biography. 9-11)"
After showcasing risk-taking gals in Women Daredevils (2007), Cummins introduces 10 "dauntless" women born before 1900 whose little-known deeds "contribut[ed] to science, geography, history, and cultural understanding" at a time when "proper ladies simply did not go gallivanting around the world to explore new territories." Read full book review >
SAM PATCH by Julie Cummins
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

Sam Patch was a real person who found fame (and an early death) by jumping from dangerous heights. Here he receives renewed attention in this odd, lively tale. Finding the prospect of working in the mills unappealing, Sam turned to jumping from the falls that powered them in town after town—and even Niagara—ultimately perishing as he tried to one-up himself at a falls near Rochester, N.Y. The fact that Sam once pushed a pet bear into the river before jumping in himself may give animal lovers pause, but in general the details that Cummins highlights should help readers picture Sam's early 19th-century world. Austin's illustrations likewise are appropriately energetic. Exaggerated features and odd perspectives emphasize Sam's lanky frame and the daring heights to which he aspired. The abrupt and anticlimactic end, however, may cause readers to wonder what the book is trying to say. Sam's story proves that people have long been fascinated by those who willingly risk harm—but that is hardly news. This brief biography of one particular historical daredevil seems poorly suited to the picture-book format and audience. (notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2008

At a time when women were expected to be domestic angels, this spunky history tracks a handful of female risk-takers who dared to do what they loved despite the danger. Cummins profiles 14 women ranging in age from 15 to 63 who, between 1880 and 1929, performed death-defying acts guaranteed to generate thrills and chills and to challenge myths about the proper place of women. Rosa Richter performed as a human cannonball; Annie Taylor survived Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel; Mlle. D'Zizi and Gertrude Breton flew through space on their bicycles; and blindfolded May Wirth perfected a double backward somersault from one galloping horse to another. Mable Stark won raves as a tiger tamer. Gladys Roy and Gladys Ingle danced on biplane wings. Sonora Carver dove 60 feet into a water tank on the back of a horse. Cummins tells the stories of these and other female daredevils with panache, sensitive to their roles as the "extreme sport" reality-show stars of the day. Harness's action-packed illustrations show each female daredevil performing in period costume and setting. Kudos for bringing to light this hidden slice of female history. (introduction, chronology, sources) (Nonfiction. 8-11) Read full book review >
COUNTRY KID, CITY KID by Julie Cummins
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

Cummins (Tomboy of the Air, 2001, etc.) gives us her take on the comparison of country life to city life in this typical, but cheerful, rendering. Readers follow the lives of Ben, who lives on a farm, and Jody, who lives in an apartment building, as a side-by-side description of each child's daily routine unfolds. When Ben wakes up he hears the sounds of birds and cows. When Jody wakes up she hears horns and sirens. Ben gets his mail at a mailbox down the road. Jody gets hers in the lobby of her apartment building—and so on. The author's simple language has an instructional feel and so do Rand's (Good Night, Hattie, My Dearie, My Dove, p. 345, etc.) skillfully detailed and literal watercolors. This combination comes off as a bit monotonous, but very accessible. What gives the narrative a nice twist is how Ben and Jody's lives intersect towards the end. Every summer Ben goes away to Camp Eagle Ridge. Then readers find out that Jody "is excited about her first time at Camp Eagle Ridge." The two meet at the camp, become friends, and afterwards Ben sends Jody a map of constellations he can see from his bedroom window. She sends him a city street map and marks her favorite places. Country life and city life seem as similar as they are different, but young readers might side with country life. Ben gets to cut down his own Christmas tree in the forest instead of buying it on the street like Jody. Ben also goes to Camp Eagle Ridge every year. What's more, he has a dog. There's something here for both kinds of kids to think about. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: July 31, 2001

An entertaining and intelligent biography of a pioneering woman aviator. When Blanche Stuart Scott wrecked her seventh bicycle, her father swore he wouldn't buy her another one—so he bought her a Cadillac instead. The year was 1902 and Blanche was 13. Cummins (The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries, 1996, etc.) opens with this anecdote and goes on to spin the tale of a fiercely competitive—and virtually fearless—woman who first drove a car across the country and then went on to become the first woman in the US to fly an airplane. Billed as "The Tomboy of the Air," Scott flew with the best of the men in aerial circuses and was also intensely involved in the testing of the rapidly developing airplane technology. Illustrated with archival photos and sprinkled liberally with quotes from Scott's own (unpublished) memoir, this slim, efficient volume provides an overview of the early, almost lawless days of aviation, when crowds assembled at barnstorming events in the gruesome hopes of a crash or two. Throughout, Scott emerges as a woman not to be deterred from her goals, despite the nearly overwhelming social pressures to assume the conventional upper-class woman's role as wife and bridge-player. Thoroughly researched and solidly written, the simplicity of the text and the inviting format should appeal to middle-grade as well as older readers. (notes, chronology, bibliography, index) (Biography. 8-14)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Normally a soloist on the series, Munro (The Inside-Outside Book of Paris, 1992) has a collaborator for this entry that shows all kinds of libraries, from behemoths like the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library to collections on navy ships and in prisons, on bookmobiles and home bookshelves. Among the places included along the way: the Internet, a library for the handicapped, school libraries, a tool-lending library, and a branch library in New York City's Chinatown. The diversity of libraries will be a revelation to young readers and will surprise adults, too. What also comes through clearly is the importance of books and libraries in every place and segment of society. An adequate treatment of a surprisingly fascinating topic. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-10) Read full book review >