Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator
2009 Orbis Pictus Award Winner
By Shelley Tanaka and Illustrated By David Craig
Amelia Earhart was born in 1897 in Iowa. She grew up to be one of the world’s greatest pilots. The first plane she flew in was the Canuck, and later, she bought her own plane that she called “The Canary.” In 1928, Amelia was the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane. In 1932, Amelia EarHart flew across the Atlantic Ocean, SOLO. She succeeded and became extremely famous. Then, it was time for her to fly – around the world.
She took Fred Noonan as an adviser. They flew to Africa sucessfully, to Asia sucessfully, to New Guinea sucessfully, but in her attempt to fly an eighteen-hour trip to Howland Island she randomly, mysteriously, dissapeared, along with Fred Noonan. The United States of America spent $4,000,000, covering over 250,000 acres of land looking for her. They found NOTHING. Zero. Zip. Zilch. There are many theories, but we do not know if any are correct. We only know that it is a mystery, and that it must be solved.
Shelley Tanaka tells about the legend of Amelia Earhart in an engaging, narrative fashion. The photographs, sidebars, and David Craig’s brilliant illustrations, brings the text alive. I was entranced with Craig’s haunting illustration of Amelia suspended against the backdrop of a sky sprinkled with clouds and rays of sunlight.
The book begins when Amelia is 11-years-old and sees her first airplane. But it was not love at first sight! In fact, Amelia didn’t discover her passion for airplanes until she was in her early twenties when she went to an air show with her father. After her first flight, Amelia was hooked.
Most of the book focuses on Amelia’s life as a female aviator. Her career took off when she received a phone call from George Putnam (who would become her husband) asking if she wanted to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Amelia never strayed far from public’s eye and she liked to tell women that they were equal to men in everything. A brave thing to say in the early 1900’s! The book ends with Amelia’s last flight—her dream of being the first woman to fly around the world. But somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, Amelia’s plane disappeared without a trace.
My favorite part of the book was the Epilogue where Ms. Tanaka writes of the numerous theories of what may have happened to Amelia that fateful day on July 2, 1937. I highly recommend this book for children in grades 3 to 5th. It has a detailed bibliography, including source notes and photography credits.