Title: Soar, Elinor!
Author: Tami Lewis Brown
Illustrator: Francois Roca
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Concepts: careers, economics of gender, human resources
Review: Elinor Smith, a pioneering female pilot, gained her first taste of flying when, at the age of six, she and her brother took a test ride in a rickety Farman pusher biplane. She immediately became enamored of flying and by age ten had begun lessons. Undeterred by obstacles such as fit (her instructor strapped blocks to the rudder bar so she could reach it) and age (her father would not allow her to fly alone until she was eighteen but her mother overruled), Elinor became the youngest person on record to earn her pilot's license at the age of sixteen.
Elinor went on to break gender barriers among pilots by setting numerous records in endurance, speed, and altitude. Perhaps as her biggest claim to fame, Elinor performed a stunt flight under the four bridges of New York City's East River in the face of unpredictable wind gusts, ship traffic, and the risk of losing her new pilot's license.
With its sweeping illustrations and engaging text, this book shines the spotlight on an important female pilot with whom young readers may otherwise not have much familiarity. The book's emphasis on a woman breaking into a non-traditional occupation adds to the book's substance and makes it a useful resource for teaching children about careers.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children