National Young People’s Poet Laureate Engle brings to children the story of Aída de Acosta, who in 1903 became the first woman to fly a motorized aircraft.
In her trademark free-verse style, Engle tells the story of Aída, a white Hispanic teenager from New Jersey who, on a trip to Paris, is dazzled by the sight of a balloon gliding by with an air boat dangling beneath and a man inside it. Determined to fly too, Aída approaches the inventor of the airship: Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian inventor known in his country as the father of aviation, achieving flight six months before the Wright brothers. Aída learns to fly, and fly she does, much to the consternation of her contemporaries: “girls, they bellowed, should never / be taught how to fly / huge machines.” Palacios’ exuberant mixed-media artwork is vibrant and colorful, in tune with Aída. Readers will chuckle at her portrayal of an aerial dinner with the waiters on stilts. In a closing note the author gives additional detail, including Aída’s promise to her father that she would keep her daring deed a secret and, later in life, after losing an eye to glaucoma, her becoming the director of the first eye bank in America.
A beautiful account of a young woman who knew that all she needed to reach her dream was courage and a chance to try. (Picture book. 4-8)