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SOAR, ELINOR! by Tami Lewis Brown


by Tami Lewis Brown, illustrated by François Roca

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-374-37115-9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Elinor Smith died in March 2010 at the age of 98, but not before she had shared memories and memorabilia with the author, a licensed private pilot, who, with controlled passion, tells the story of the girl who, at age six in 1917, begged her father to allow her a ride in a biplane over the potato fields of Long Island, N.Y. She began flying lessons at ten, was licensed at 16 and accepted, perhaps unwisely, a bet from an older male pilot who said she couldn’t fly under one of New York City's East River bridges. She flew under all four, taking the Brooklyn Bridge sideways, banking vertically to get between a tanker and a Navy destroyer that were passing underneath. Although her flight was illegal, she won kudos from Mayor Jimmy Walker. In the 1950s, after raising her children, Elinor went back to flying. Brown’s prose is crystalline, lively and reads well aloud. Roca captures the air and sky beautifully, although his figures and landscapes are rather static on the page—a minor flaw in an otherwise inspiring account. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)