Title: The Hallelujah Flight
Author: Phil Bildner
Illustrator: John Holyfield
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Concepts: Great Depression, discrimination, racial inequality, altruism
Review: Some folks thought that James Banning had lost his marbles when he announced he wanted to fly his airplane from California to New York. After all, it was the Great Depression and virtually impossible to buy all the mechanical parts and supplies that were needed to fix up the old plane and prepare for such a long trip. Not to worry, said Banning; he planned to stop frequently and solicit donations, food, and fuel along the way, in exchange for letting people sign their names on the wing tips during this historical occasion.
Banning and his skilled mechanic and copilot Thomas Allen became the first African Americans to fly coast to coast across the United States. The "Flying Hoboes," as they were nicknamed, completed the trip in 21 days. Although they encountered much generosity on the ground along the way, they also came across prejudice and barriers to entry in some establishments where they stopped to rest and refuel.
Beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist John Holyfield, this engaging book shines the spotlight on two relatively unknown historical figures who overcame not only extremely tight financial constraints but also institutionalized discrimination by race as they flew their way into the record books. Parents and teachers looking to expand their children's book collections to include new works of historical fiction will find this book an appealing choice.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children