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Fly High! The Story Of Bessie Coleman [Hardcover]

Louise Borden , Mary Kay Kroeger , Teresa Flavin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2001
Besse Coleman was born in rural Texas in 1892. She loved school, especially learning about numbers, and she was a good reader, too. Yet when it was time to pick cotton she had to work in the fields instead of going to school. Nevertheless, she was determined to be somebody when she grew up.
In her early twenties, Bessie moved to Chicago. Perhaps there she could "find a bigger life." In the city, Bessie heard many tales of World War I from returned veterans. She also heard there were woman airplane pilots in France. From then on, she was determined to become a pilot. But she soon found out that no one would teach a woman -- especially a woman with dark skin -- how to fly. To study in France was her only chance, and by working hard and saving her money, she managed at last to get there. Bessie Coleman became the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. She was somebody.
The inspiring story of her difficult early years, her success as a stunt pilot putting on daring air shows in many states, and her dedication to telling young African-Americans wherever she went, "You can be somebody. You can fly high just like me," is as moving and important today as it was then. Simply told with evocative full-color illustrations, this is a special book for today's young people.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Written for an older audience than aimed for in either Lynn Joseph's Fly, Bessie, Fly or Reeve Lindbergh's Nobody Owns the Sky!: The Story of 'Brave Bessie' Coleman, this informative and insightful picture-book biography of the African-American aviator merits attention. Borden and Kroeger, co-authors of Paperboy, stress the adversities of Bessie Coleman's childhood in rural Texas at the turn of the 20th century and emphasize her extraordinary perseverance. As a girl, Bessie struggles to get an education, even when she must pick cotton instead of attending school; later, at 18, Bessie enrolls in "catch-up classes" and is placed in sixth grade at a private college, but her money runs out after only one term. Undefeated in her determination to become "somebody," Bessie eventually moves to Chicago in 1915 and, later, learns of French women who piloted planes during WWI. From that point on, Bessie resolves to fly; when no American pilots agree to teach her, she saves up money and enrolls at a school in France, becoming the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. At once breezy and grounded, the rhythmic text is arranged in short, verse-like lines, which should encourage reluctant readers to climb on board. Flavin's (Pushing Up the Sky) pebbly gouaches are atmospheric if a bit stiff, capitalizing on Borden and Kroeger's optimism. A flight well worth taking. Ages 9-12. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 4-The authors' flair for imparting history soars in this biography of the first African American to earn a pilot's license. From her difficult childhood spent picking cotton in Texas to her grand achievements in aviation, Coleman's personality shines through. The warm illustrations done in gouache on colored paper mix exciting images of the aviator flying her plane with quieter glimpses of her interacting with friends and family members. The straightforward sentence structure keeps the action moving and will capture reluctant readers. Coleman's affinity for children will captivate youngsters, who will freely mourn the early demise of the "trŠs chic! aviatrix" who often told others, "You can be somebody, too." A first-rate follow-up to Borden's Good-Bye, Charles Lindbergh (McElderry, 1998).-Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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First Sentence
A hundred years ago in Waxahachie, Texas, Bessie Coleman walked four miles to her one-room schoolhouse and four miles home. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Wind beneath her wings April 10 2004
Format:Hardcover
A little light in the loafers is this story of Bessie Coleman. Though a worthy subject and a fascinating tale, this particular biography of the great Bessie C. is an awkwardly formal affair. Containing no source notes aside from a brief authorial thank you at the start of the book, most of the facts surrounding the life and times of Bessie Coleman are credited to Marion Coleman, Bessie's niece. Reading through this tale, I could only conclude that it was a pity that such a dry product could come from this powerful woman's life.
Bessie Coleman was a sharecropper's daughter in Waxahachie, Texas. Having grown up poor, Ms. Coleman moved to Chicago, Illinois to make a name for herself. After years of hard work, Bessie determined that the only job she wanted was to become an aviatrix. Scrimping and saving allowed Bessie to travel to France, where she was able to earn her pilot's license. Throughout the years Bessie would wow American audiences everywhere with her tricks and derring-do. In the end, Bessie died in a plane crash and was buried in Chicago once more. Her life allowed her to become the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. Not the first black woman but the first black person ever! Fairly impressive stuff.
There's a kind of disconnect between the words in this book and the images on its pages. Both the words and the illustrations are rather stiff and formal. Each illustration is contained neatly within its own little space and every narrative sequence is typed in nice little sections. It's funny that I felt the book to be so blah. There's no one moment in the story where I could say to myself, "Now THAT is why I find this telling so dull!".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman May 8 2001
By Cathy
Format:Hardcover
Imagine walking four miles to school and four miles home from school. That's what Bessie Coleman did a hundred years ago. She wanted to be somebody-like Harriet Tubman and Bookier T. Washington. She knew that with schooling she could be. She worked hard, picking cotton, walking miles to collect laundry, and learning her numbers. When she was twenty-three, she moved to Chicago. There she became a manicurist. She read the newspaper, and listened when customers told tales about French lady pilots in World War I. She wanted to be a lady pilot. She boldly went to Publisher Robert Abbot who told her to earn some money and learn French. He would help her find a flying school. In 1920, she went to France,learned to fly, and became the first African American to fly. When she became a stunt pilot she spread her message, "You can be somebody. You can fly high, just like me." This colorful, beautiful, simply written book shows how Bessie Coleman was an inspiration. Her determination and hard work made her dreams come true! Read and find out the sad ending to this courageous woman's story!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wind beneath her wings April 10 2004
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A little light in the loafers is this story of Bessie Coleman. Though a worthy subject and a fascinating tale, this particular biography of the great Bessie C. is an awkwardly formal affair. Containing no source notes aside from a brief authorial thank you at the start of the book, most of the facts surrounding the life and times of Bessie Coleman are credited to Marion Coleman, Bessie's niece. Reading through this tale, I could only conclude that it was a pity that such a dry product could come from this powerful woman's life.
Bessie Coleman was a sharecropper's daughter in Waxahachie, Texas. Having grown up poor, Ms. Coleman moved to Chicago, Illinois to make a name for herself. After years of hard work, Bessie determined that the only job she wanted was to become an aviatrix. Scrimping and saving allowed Bessie to travel to France, where she was able to earn her pilot's license. Throughout the years Bessie would wow American audiences everywhere with her tricks and derring-do. In the end, Bessie died in a plane crash and was buried in Chicago once more. Her life allowed her to become the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. Not the first black woman but the first black person ever! Fairly impressive stuff.
There's a kind of disconnect between the words in this book and the images on its pages. Both the words and the illustrations are rather stiff and formal. Each illustration is contained neatly within its own little space and every narrative sequence is typed in nice little sections. It's funny that I felt the book to be so blah. There's no one moment in the story where I could say to myself, "Now THAT is why I find this telling so dull!". For the most part the story is factual (to the best of my knowledge), the only exception possibly being the moment when the text says the following about Bessie's license:
"It was the very best license to have:
With it, Bessie could fly anywhere in the world.
Nobody could say, `You're a Negro woman, you can't fly.'"
Well.... actually they probably could. That's a bit of a problem with this book. Racism is just sorta understood to have existed in some form. But it's never confronted directly. Most of the pictures in this book are of (sorry but it's true) smiling happy black people. No white person is ever singled out as racist or contributing to the system of racism. Bessie herself must have encountered several instances of it within her lifetime, but they are never mentioned. The fact that Bessie has to learn to fly in France is said matter of factly. Yet the comparative European openness towards African Americans is never mentioned. All in all, a kid's going to need a lot more explanation about WHY Bessie had problems during her life since this book's not about to clear up such questions. It's a worthy effort, but it falls well short of the mark.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman May 8 2001
By Cathy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Imagine walking four miles to school and four miles home from school. That's what Bessie Coleman did a hundred years ago. She wanted to be somebody-like Harriet Tubman and Bookier T. Washington. She knew that with schooling she could be. She worked hard, picking cotton, walking miles to collect laundry, and learning her numbers. When she was twenty-three, she moved to Chicago. There she became a manicurist. She read the newspaper, and listened when customers told tales about French lady pilots in World War I. She wanted to be a lady pilot. She boldly went to Publisher Robert Abbot who told her to earn some money and learn French. He would help her find a flying school. In 1920, she went to France,learned to fly, and became the first African American to fly. When she became a stunt pilot she spread her message, "You can be somebody. You can fly high, just like me." This colorful, beautiful, simply written book shows how Bessie Coleman was an inspiration. Her determination and hard work made her dreams come true! Read and find out the sad ending to this courageous woman's story!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of Bessie Coleman. March 27 2007
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
fly high! is a story of a woman that name is Bessie Coleman who meets a guy that tells her to go to France to learn how to fly.She traveled all over the world , until one day she crashed in California.She was in the hospital for three long months,and was not able to fly for a year.She didn`t give up on flying again.one day she was ready to fly again.A texas mechanic,William Wills,joined her.Bessie didn`t put on her seatbelt,and the plane went out of control.Bessie fell from the plane.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fly High is a good multicultural book Jan. 25 2014
By Michele D. Deschenes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Perfect Paperback|Verified Purchase
I used this book to discuss multicultural issues. Nice presentation, colorful. I recommend it for grades 3-6, or lower as a read aloud.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bessie Coleman book Jan. 7 2014
By Cheryle Katribe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Perfect Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an easy to read book about Bessie Coleman that is great to use during Black History Month or Women's History Month.
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