Here is the true story of the night Amelia Earhart and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt went for an unsanctioned nighttime plane ride--and all while still attired in their evening wear. Having similar courageous hearts, Roosevelt and Earhart were friends before the flight chronicled in this book. When Roosevelt heard Earhart would be in Washington D.C. to make a speech, she invited Earhart and her husband to The White House for dinner. When the dinner conversation turned to the joy of flying at night (at the time, only a few pilots--including Earhart--had attempted night flight), the two friends make a spontaneous decision to skip out on dessert in favor of a quick trip to Baltimore and back.
Ryan and Selznick celebrate the independent spirit of two of the most famous and inspiring women of their time. Selznick's illustrations are as superb as ever and capture the magic of their night flight. An author's note sifts fact from fiction.
Bessie Smith and the Night Riders
When Emmarene mentions that it is strange that the crowd would "fancy" Bessie Smith because of her size, it seems a modern convention projected on a time in which women were not expected to be as small to be considered beautiful (I don't have any official research to back this up). Aside from that, this true story is a gem that offers an inspiring tale of bravery and courage that should be more widely known. Includes an author's note.
written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
This story chronicles the bravery and foresight of a librarian named Alia. When she is denied permission to relocate the books in her library so precious to her and the community of her Iraqi city, Alia begins to secretly relocate the books, fearing the war will lead to their loss. Some books go to her house by car, others to the restaurant next door, some to other shops and neighbors, but all are hidden in secret. Nine days after the majority of the books are relocated, the library burns to the ground. Because of the determination and bravery of Alia and her friends, seventy percent of the libraries books are saved. Includes a note from the author.
Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World
poems by Marilyn Nelson
illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Told in verse, this book chronicles the exploits of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an integrated, all-girl swing and jazz band that performed during World War II. Beginning at a boarding school in Mississippi, being an interracial group was not just a progressive choice, but a dangerous one for the band, considering the Jim Crow laws in effect in the American South at that time. In addition, to even consider forming an all-girl band was daring at a time when, despite the success of multiple female artists, the jazz scene--and the professional music world in general--was dominated by men. Pinkney's vibrant watercolor collage pair well with Nelson's rhythmic poetry, told in the voice of different instruments. Includes a timeline and an author's note.
Click here to watch a video of an International Sweethearts of Rhythm performance.
Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Told in the voice of her grandmother, Nasreen's story begins in sadness and oppression, but ends with light and hope. After her father is taken away by soldiers and her mother disappears in search of him, Nasreen no longer speaks or smiles. Desperate to raise her granddaughter out of the cloud of depression that has engulfed her, Nasreen's grandmother takes her to a nearby secret school for girls. Such schools were dangerous as the Taliban, who controlled Afghanistan at the time (and still do much damage there to this day), forbid girls to be educated. The schoolgirls, however, were clever and evaded the soldiers' notice--they were even helped by neighborhood boys who would distract the soldiers when they came near the school. As she begins to come out of her depression, Nasreen's concerns for her parents are heartbreakingly understandable, but the sadness is tempered by the amazing ways in which going to school helps Nasreen cope with her fear and grief, and expands her mind. Includes an author's note.