FEARLESS FLYER by Heather Lang


Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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Lang’s portrait commemorates the centennial of Ruth Law’s record-breaking flight from Chicago to New York.

Law, who performed daredevil tricks for spectators in her Curtiss Pusher biplane, set a higher goal: to best the new nonstop-flight record just set by Victor Carlstrom. Law petitioned Glenn Curtiss for his newest model, which Carlstrom had flown—a large one, with a 205-gallon fuel tank. Curtiss refused, doubting Law’s ability to handle the powerful plane and long flight. Instead, Ruth and her mechanics modified her little open-cockpit biplane, installing a metal wind guard and extra fuel tanks that increased capacity from 16 gallons to 53. (Oddly, Lang omits a significant detail: the plane’s lights were removed to lighten it.) Effectively employing short, staccato phrases, Lang creates a riveting, “you are there” narrative. Law correctly interprets her engine’s sounds, gauges, compass, map, and landmarks, prudently touching down twice before reaching New York City—but after besting Carlstrom’s record. Well-chosen quotes from Law further enliven the text (though two, inserted within the flight’s narrative, predate it). Colón’s rich compositions—in colored pencil and crayon on paper “etched” with swirling lines—use a primary palette of gold and charcoal brown, with layers of turquoise for water and sky. Colón correctly depicts Law’s lever controls; there’s a captioned photo highlighting the detail. Readers may feel the absence of a contextualizing timeline.

A well-crafted tribute to a fascinating aviation pioneer. (author’s note, photographs, bibliography, collections and exhibits, websites, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 8th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62091-650-6
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016


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