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Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart Hardcover – Feb 8 2011
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Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2011:
"Handwritten notes, photos, maps and inquisitive sidebars (What did Earhart eat during flight? Tomato juice and chocolate) complete this impeccably researched, appealing package. A stunning look at an equally stunning lady."
Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, March/April 2011:
"The book’s structure and scope, along with the story’s inherent drama, provide a taut, cinematic backdrop for the history of Earhart’s doomed flight."
Starred Review, School Library Journal, March 2011:
"Ho-hum history? Not in Fleming’s apt hands. What could be a dry recitation of facts and dates is instead a gripping and suspenseful thriller...This book is splendid. Hand it to everyone."
Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 2011:
"Fleming cleverly structures this biography to give the tale of tragedy a fresh and dreadful impact...As a result, this offers not only a provocative introduction to Earhart but also compelling glimpse of what it was like to watch her disappear from the world."
About the Author
CANDACE FLEMING is the prolific author of The Great and Only Barnum, a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction nominee and a Publishers Weekly and Booklist Best Book; The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award recipient; Our Eleanor, an ALA Best Book for Young Adult's; and Ben Franklin's Almanac, a James Madison Honor Book. She is also the author of many highly acclaimed picture books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Fleming's book is unique though and is a rich addition to the Earhart bookshelf as 2012, will mark the 75th anniversary of her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean.
Fleming shares this story in a unique way by planting the reader right there, on board the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, in the early morning hours of July 2, 1937, where the crew is listening and watching for Earhart's plane. The skillful storytelling pulls the reader right into the mystery of Amelia's disappearance. Even though we know the outcome, the reader feels caught up in the search and hopes that the story might have a different outcome this time. Hope flares for her recovery.
The book design invites the reader to dip in anywhere or read the story straight through. Images are captioned, and interesting facts and related events are highlighted in text boxes throughout. Some of the most fascinating aspects of the story to me were the pages featuring shortwave radio listeners in Wyoming and Florida who may have picked up some of the last broadcasts from the doomed plane. The story of that fateful day when Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan disappeared is told separately on gray shaded pages which can be read as they appear, interspersed throughout the book or easily located and read as a separate narrative.
Fleming provides an extensive bibliography which she has enhanced with subheadings explaining the role certain archives and references played in her research. She also includes a list of authoritative websites which is of immense value given the number of "speculative" sites that must be out there. These sites will help fill in "the rest of the story" if more is discovered about her fate in the future. Each chapter is documented with source notes and picture credits. I would share these pages with students to demonstrate the importance and value of documenting sources in research.
Rachel Cole's book design is lovely. The color scheme of white and soft gray echoes the hues of black and white photographs. The time period is further evoked by lettered titles and headings, by Jessica Hische, that were inspired by Art Deco posters of the time. The white space on the pages is balanced by a truly inspired choice of typeface called Electra. Earhart's plane was a Lockheed Model 10 Electra.
This is nonfiction storytelling at its very best. Candace Fleming engages us and invites us back in time. She keeps us turning the pages until hope is lost.
When some of us think of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, we think of that eerie moment when she was there one moment and gone the next. In truth, it wasn't like that. In fact, it was a lot more interesting. In alternating chapters author Candace Fleming jumps back and forth between Amelia's biographical details and the many people who heard Amelia's cries for rescue (in vain). There was the fifteen-year-old in Florida who heard "This is Amelia Earhart" issuing from her radio. The sixteen-year-old boy in Wyoming who heard it too. There was the housewife in Texas trying to find an overseas radio program. All these near calls are contrasted with Fleming's many little-known Earhart facts. Amelia never really flew her "first flight". She was given identical poses to Charles Lindberg in her publicity shots due to her likeness to the fellow pilot. Her father encouraged her, but also near ruined his family with his alcoholism. And maybe most significant of all, Amelia blew off her instruction in learning how to operate her radio . . . a choice that undoubtedly led to her death. With a director's grace, Fleming draws the two storylines together in the end, leaving us with little doubt as to Ms. Earhart's eventual fate. A Bibliography and Source Notes appear at the end.
I like research. I like knowing that an author likes research too. It gives me a sense of comfort in this cold and colorless world. The type of research Fleming brings to this book really puts this book ahead of pack, though. You've got your basic historic documents, maps, original photographs, etc. That's fine. Then you have a newly released Coast Guard file on Amelia. That's interesting. Add into that the documents relating to the folks who thought they heard her on the radio and you might be set. But what I like is that the Bibliography doesn't just throw all these sources down without a blink, but rather separates them into different categories. So on the one hand you might have "Family members and friends also left behind numerous reminiscences of Earhart" with a list shortly after "In addition to these archival collections, Earhart's published works were particularly helpful" After that Fleming includes reliable websites relating to Earhart and Source Notes. With all this research I guess I kind of hoped that there'd be a little more speculation in the text itself on what actually happened to her body and her plane. Fleming recounts the rumors from the time period but refuses to go any further, not even mentioning modern speculations. I can see why this choice was made, and Fleming does link to The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (who, as of this review, are planning to conduct an underwater search for Earhart's plane in July 2012) but it would have been nice to see a little allusion to the general vicinity of the plane's possible last arrival too.
Want to know how you can get a kid who normally reads fiction into reading a biography? Here's the trick. When talking up this title what you really need to concentrate on is how Fleming ratchets up the tension regarding Amelia's rescue. Fleming meticulously covers the many close shaves and folks who accidentally heard her rescue cries, only to ignore them or misperceive them or, worst of all, report them only to be ignored. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if a certain kind of young reader skips the biographical details of Ms. Earhart's life entirely and just reads the rescue mission sections alone. And it's easy to forget while you're reading that Amelia will never be rescued. Fleming's writing is so intense, in fact, that I myself forgot this fact, half expecting to read about how they finally located her plane at long last on such-n-such an island. So to sell this to a kid you first play up the mystery element of her disappearance. Then you allude to her mysterious radio signals and the weird variety of folks who picked up on them. Kids love mysteries, and real world mysteries are some of the best.
I was speaking with someone the other day about failed children's biographies and what exactly it is they do wrong. She made an excellent case, saying that if you have to ask "Why did you even WRITE this biography?" then the author's doing something wrong. Earhart being who she was, you wouldn't necessarily think such a question would arise, but even the most noteworthy individual needs a reason to have a whole book about them. You may be the first [blank] to have [blanked] but what does that mean, really? What does it signify? And why on earth should we have kids read about such a person? Fleming's talents abound, but what I've always liked about her the most is her ability to show both the good and the bad in her subjects. The Great and Only Barnum did a superb job at synthesizing America's best known humbug into a biographical format suitable for youth. So what makes Amelia noteworthy? Well, some of it is her accomplishments, sure as shooting. But in the end what Fleming manages to do is to balance our affection for the person with her need to advertise herself. Librarian Jennifer Hubert Swan called Amelia "the Lady Gaga of her time". She curled her straight hair to make it look windblown. She filled her plane with signed stamp covers with the intention of sending the purchased items to folks after she finished her round-the-world flight. In the end, it may well be that the woman had more in common with P.T. Barnum than you might think. Pity those two crazy cats never met one another. You know that early aeronautics would have been right up Barnum's alley.
And then there's what not to say. I told my husband that I was reading a children's biography of Amelia Earhart and he responded, "Oh. Does it mention her open marriage?" Well, shoot. Bring that up why don't you? We are dealing with a biography for the young `uns after all, and to bring up the whole open marriage thing would require one to go so far as to explain what an open marriage is in the first place. And pretty much once you've gotten that far you're in territory best befitting a bio for an older audience, so for the most part I had no problems with what Fleming chose to exclude from the book. However, like the aforementioned Ms. Swan I did find myself wishing that Fleming had explained some of the rudimentary basics involved in long-distance flying. Mainly, how the heck did Amelia Earhart go to the bathroom up there? If you read a book about astronauts that's one of the first things you ponder. If you read about early aeronautics, the questions are the same.
There are days when I feel like the totality of women's history boils down to moments when one woman decided to do something cool, then found herself competing with other women who (for the sake of publicity) wanted to do the same thing. Amelia's predecessor in this way would have to be Nellie Bly, the intrepid reporter who traveled around the world in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds (not by plane). For this reason you might be inclined to pair Amelia Lost with Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly by Sue Macy. However, Fleming's book would certainly have to be declared the superior of the two. Infinitely readable, even for those of the reluctant persuasion, Fleming melds fact and great storytelling together to bring us a tale as compelling as it is devastating. Not all great stories have happy endings and sometimes it's more interesting when they don't. Highly recommended.
For ages 10 and up.
Fleming does the seeming impossible by getting the reader so involved in the story that he/she somehow hopes the end of the story will be different than he/she knows it to be. The design of the book is sharp and easy to follow with photographs placed appropriately through out. Sidebars add interesting information about Earhart and the people around her. I highly recommend this book to those who love a good story and a fascinating piece of history.
Amelia Lost: Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart is a great book. It is about a young woman who tries to prove to the world that women can do anything they set their mind to. For example, Amelia Earhart was the first woman to ever fly across the Atlantic Ocean. When she returned, she had become very famous. She was also the first woman to ever attempt to fly around the globe. Unfortunately, along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, she crashed her plane the Electra somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. After searching for weeks, they called it quits, and her disappearance remains a mystery to this day. There are many interesting theories and rumors that people claim happened to her. Where exactly did she crash? Did she even crash at all? Did she survive the crash? Read Amelia Lost: Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart to find out! I think Candace Fleming did a fantastic job on this book. I would definitely recommend
this book to anyone who is interested in the life of Amelia Earhart because she was a brave and inspirational woman. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "I am sure Amelia's last words were `I have no regrets.'" I also liked this book because it taught me a lot about her and her life. --CR
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