A lively biography of a pioneer in women’s aviation.
In 1927, when flying was still a new phenomenon, 23-year-old Ruth Elder set out to be the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic. She and her instructor embarked on the journey with high hopes, but due to a serious malfunction, they abandoned the plane and were scooped up by a passing ship on its way to Europe. Cummins writes that Ruth “never lost her courage or her lipstick.” She made the most of the fame the unsuccessful attempt brought her, even performing in two silent movies, but her heart remained in aviation. In 1929, Ruth placed fifth in a cross-country race with 19 other women. Proud to have finished the course, Ruth accurately predicted that American women would someday be fighter pilots. Cummins’ snappy prose captures Ruth’s ebullient spirit, and her inclusion of other women acknowledges a community of female pilots often unmentioned in accounts of the most famous female aviator, Amelia Earhart, who is mentioned only briefly here. Laugesen’s muted illustrations render details with care, successfully evoking this exciting historical era.
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)