Born to Fly

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you so much to Roaring Brook Press for the eARC of this book! 
I love the way Steve Sheinkin makes history accessible and captivating for readers young and old. Born to Fly focuses on the Women’s Air Derby in 1929 - a race from California to Ohio that help to prove that women were just as capable aviators as their male counterparts. They recovered from crashes, (probably) sabotage, and illness and proved to the world that a woman’s place is in the sky. 
While many of us are familiar with Amelia Earhart, there were many other pioneering women whose names are less well known, but whose accomplishments are no less laudable.  I loved reading their stories, and can’t wait to share this book with my own kids.
Was this review helpful?
Another winner from Steve Sheinkin! I recently read the adult book “Fly Girls” by Keith O’Brien (which I loved), so I was excited to see that Sheinkin had written a book on this same topic (women’s air races in history) for younger readers. I can’t wait to purchase this book for our school library and share this historical event with the students. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for making this fantastic book possible!
Was this review helpful?
Steve Sheinkin is a sure bet for me. Every book I have read by him is well-researched and written in engaging, informative prose. This book shattered my image of Amelia Earhart as the only pioneer in women's aviation. Sheinkin even addresses this phenomenon in the Epilogue to this book. Most certainly the mystery surrounding her disappearance plays a role. I would also contend that her husband and publisher, George Putnam, also played a significant role in her visibility to the public. There are many wonderful photos included in this book. The illustration style is appealing, but can not compete with the window we gain through photos. Highly recommended for 5th grade and up.

Many thanks to Macmillan Children's Roaring Book Press and NetGalley for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, for an advance copy of Steve Sheinkin's Born to Fly: The First Women's Air Race Across America. This book will be released on September 24, 2019. All opinions are my own.

This is a middle grade nonfiction book about the female pilots who participated in the 1929 Air Derby which was the first women's air race across the United States. The book talks about each woman's journey to becoming a pilot, her trip across the country during the derby, and what she did after the derby.

I love this book so much. The stories of these women, the adversity they faced, and their accomplishments is astounding and inspirational. We have all most likely heard of Amelia Earhart and she is discussed in the book, but what I really enjoyed was learning about all the other women who made huge contributions to the aviation world and women's rights. I was inspired by the stories of Marvel Crosson, Louise Thaden, Blanche Noyes, and the other female pilots. I had never heard of the 1929 Air Derby before. I honestly had no idea that cross country plane races were a thing, for men or women. Through the stories of these amazing women, it is shown that you can do anything you put your mind to and that you can't let the doubts, criticisms, and fears of others stop you from doing what you're capable of and/or dream of doing. I had always viewed Amelia Earhart as this amazing pilot (and don't get me wrong she was), but what I didn't know was that there were other female pilot equally good, if not better than her. I think it is so important that their story also be told. This was an engaging read and I hope to get a copy to include in my classroom library.
Was this review helpful?
I will never say no to a Steve Sheinkin book and this one was no exception. Born to Fly tells the story of the first women pilots and the first Female Air Derby. It is a fascinating story with a lot of names I was not familiar with. Of course everyone knows who Amelia Earhart was, but what was interesting is that she was not the best pilot only the most famous and she knew it. At the time there were other famous female pilots like Pancho Barnes, Marvel Crosson, Louise Thaden and many others who flew the derby. They were beset by sabotage and problems that were never really investigated. The pilots believe that the sabotage actually led to the tragic death of one of their members. I am now fascinated by Louise Thaden, the winner of the derby, and several of the others. Sheinkin does a fantastic job showing how they all got their start in flying, generally from jumping off a roof! Marvel and her brother even built their own plane. He also shows the prejudice against women flyers and how they each had to fight for their place in the skies. The Derby itself was so very interesting. They flew from California to Ohio with multiple stops along the way. Each night was spent eating rubber chicken at a banquet (the pilots would have rather worked on their planes or slept). There were mishaps, crashes, breakdowns and so much more along the way. Flying was definitely different in 1929.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley.

This is a vitally important history for anyone interested in aviation or women's history. The stories in these pages are guaranteed to thrill, delight, and move readers of any age, but they will be especially valuable to middle grade and young adult readers. All the history and life stories build up to the account of the legendary 1929 Women's Air Derby; it really did feel like I was there to live it.

The fact that only Amelia Earhart is a household name is a failure that can be rectified by reading and sharing this book widely—everyone deserves to know the names Louise Thaden, Pancho Barnes, Ruth Nichols, Gladys O'Donnell, and Blanche Noyes, among so very many other pioneers in the field of aviation.

My copy unfortunately did not contain illustrations. I'm looking forward to picking up the finished product in order to enjoy them alongside the text.
Was this review helpful?
This is an overview of women in aviation.  Each of their stories is told simultaneously, so I found it a bit confusing.  It felt like you would get little bits of each one's story without ever feeling like you had the whole picture.  It was a bit disappointing because I really like Steve Sheinkin's work.
Was this review helpful?
Again Steve Sheinkin takes a topic I didn’t think I was interested in and convinces me in less than five minutes to sit and read the whole book in one sitting. Women’s rights...okay; death defying acts of bravery and air stunts...sure; supporting each other during a female only 9-day cross country air race amidst rumors of sabotage and ugly press...wow. These women were amazing people. Physically, emotionally, and mentally strong with a will to compete like nothing else. Sheinkin narrates their story so vibrantly I was practically gasping at the end. I was very happy he included information as to what each “character” went on to pursue after the race because, as a reader, I became invested in every one of them.
Was this review helpful?
This is a fascinating account of the early days of aviation in the first decades of the 20th century, focused on the small percentage of female pilots who took to the skies as flying machines were first developed and competed in the first Women’s Air Derby of 1929. 

Early women pilots faced typical challenges of this new technology - learning the physics of aviation as the field evolved, access to flying machines, physical danger, funding - as well as some more unique to women including a societal belief that women couldn’t make good pilots, family and parental resistance and dangerous (and sometimes fatal) problems with sabotaged equipment. Born To Fly tells the stories of many of the earliest female pilots, their struggles, their efforts to confront male chauvinism and their passion for flying. 

I found this book well-written and detailed. It gives both historical insights into the period and a sense of the personalities and motivations of the young female pilots. I learned so much from this book! It would be an excellent read for students of early 20th century technology and transportation.
Was this review helpful?
I could probably stop at - Steve Sheinkin wrote this book - and anyone who has read one of his other works would know what to expect. Sheinkin always tells a full, rich story with tons of details he has learned in his meticulous research about the topic. This time he introduces all the women who participated in the 1929 Air Derby. The one most recognized today would be Amelia Earhart, but there were 20 women in that race across the country. Beginning with their childhood days and their early exploits (jumping off barn roofs, creating their own roller coaster, etc.) the author goes on to tell how each of them entered the field of aviation and make their way to the derby.

Some came from working class families and fell in love with flying after seeing an air show or buying a 5 minute flight over a field near home. Others came from wealthy families and purchased flying lessons and a plane of their own without having to scrimp and save. Whatever their pasts, they all came together to prove that women had the endurance and skills to fly in a cross-country air race just as well as men. And despite the hardships, sabotage, and crashes along the way, they did just that. Sheinkin captures the determination and the inspiration of those amazing women, describing how they pressed on through hardships, mechanical failures, social pressures, and the loss of dear friends in fatal crashes. 

Anyone interested in aviation history, or especially in female pioneers in the field, will enjoy this book. It is written to be age-appropriate for 4th grade and up.
Was this review helpful?
Sheinkin has done it again. His story like narration brings to life historical events readers will devour. We’ve all heard of Amelia Earhart and maybe Bessie Coleman. Here readers will get to know some incredibly brave and daring women of aviation. Their bravery went beyond the early and perilous days of flying to breaking the glass ceiling as we call it today for women. Women in the 20’s were considered delicate and frail, definitely not suited to handle an airplane. That was for big strong men. Women definitely should not work outside the home or God forbid, wear pants.

Born To Fly
In August 1929, a talented and outspoken group of female aviators spearheaded women’s rights when they participated in an all-woman nine-day, cross-country air race that kicked off in California.

Quoting Henry Ford , “I pay our women well so they can dress attractively and get married.” 
The women were fighting centuries of bias. This aside, they were solely interested in becoming successful fliers. Changing public opinion of women’s capabilities was a secondary outcome. To name a few of the brave: Marvel Crosson, Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Ruth Nichols, were among the 99 (nearly all white) licensed female pilots in 1929. Flying opportunities for women of color were even MORE sharply limited. (Only African American Bessie Coleman is mentioned in this account.) 

Sheinkin is a master at storytelling where the facts are WELL researched and founded.  This  Women’s Air Derby was highly controversial which became even more so when a pilot was killed in a crash that may have been caused by someone tampering with her plane. Some wanted the women to fail so desperately to sabotage the planes. 

 Born to a Fly explores the 1929 race in detail, using the event to reveal the lives of many of the early female fliers. 

The book includes a large number of period photographs and illustrations. and outstanding backmatter round out an engaging and enlightening historical novel.

Suspenseful, informative, exciting, tragic and uplifting. (Nonfiction. 11-16)
Was this review helpful?
I learned so much, as I always do with a book from Steve Sheinkin but the best part about his books is that you don't realize how much you are learning, you just want to know more.  Most of us are familiar with Amelia Earhart but few people know about the stunning feats of her peers like Marvel Crossen, Pancho Barnes or Louise Thaden.  They all came from different backgrounds, different parts of the country but shared a common dream - to fly.  The other focus of the book is the first Women's Air Derby which was a cross-country air race lasting nine days and covering over 2, 750 miles.  It was grueling, it was dangerous and it was the first time women competed in this relatively new industry.  Not only did they have to prove that they were brave, talented and very skilled fliers but they had to prove it to a society that believed their women should be at home and not taking jobs and honors away from men. The mystery surrounding the race and some of the "accidents" that happened only sweetened the pot and I would love to see another book just on that.  My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
Was this review helpful?
This nonfiction book collects stories about the lives of several trailblazing female pilots. When you mention female pilots, the first name that comes to mind is always (at least for me) Amelia Earhart. She’s here, of course, but this book introduces readers to new names in the field, like Marvel Crosson, Louise Thaden, Elinor Smith, and Ruth Nichols, just to name a few. Their stories are all different, but they are woven together in this story to tell the tale of what it was like to take risks in such a dangerous field, when so few had before. 

I loved learning about new people in this field. The best part for me was the pictures and drawings that were included throughout the text. Seeing the pilots with their planes really shows the passion they had for what they were doing. I would definitely recommend this for middle grade readers looking to learn a little bit more about female pilots! 

I was given an advanced reader's copy via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Steve Sheinkin introduces the reader to a group of women pilots who make history. Of course Amelia Earhart is included, but the best part is meeting all the other pilots of all ages and from many different walks of life. These women broke records and accepted challenges including a cross country air race. The text reads like a great fiction book with lots of suspense. This is a great book to share with girls to show that women can do anything. I will definitely be adding this title to my middle school library's collection. 
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Sheinkin never seems to disappoint with his portrayals of history, and Born to Fly is no exception. This is a real page turner, with detailed information about history’s first female pilots and the obstacles they crushed in order to meet their goals. Though it’s chock full of info, it reads almost like a novel. Wonderful book.
Was this review helpful?
The name that always come to mind when female aviators are mentioned is the famously known Amelia Earhart. However, there were many other female pilots who have made an impact in this field during the same era. 

Born to Fly-The First Women’s Air Race across America was a fascinating children’s nonfiction book about remarkable, but little known women pilots such as Louise McPhetridge, Ruth Elder, Marvel Crosson, Florence Lowe, Raymonde de Laroche, Harriet Quimby, Bessie Coleman(the first African American pilot in the United States), Elinor Smith (world’s youngest pilot-male or female)and Neta Snook (who taught Amelia Earhart how to fly). 

The author wrote in a language suited for this age group. He also engaged his audience with inspiring stories of courage and resiliency. Most importantly, the author gave voice to these women’s outstanding accomplishments so that all generations will remember their names and place in history. This was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read. 
Highly recommended for readers of all ages and should definitely be included in school and classroom libraries.
Was this review helpful?
This is an engaging nonfiction text that reads like a novel! We've all heard of Amelia Earhart, but this book gives readers a sense of her personality along with several other female pilots in her social and professional circles, most of whom we never learn anything about otherwise.
Was this review helpful?
Steve Sheinkin has written another fascinating account of a  little known piece of history.  His writing is thorough and easy to read.  I had always thought Amelia Earhart was an excellent pilot.  In truth she was a decent pilot with great public relations people.  Many other lesser known female pilots such as Marvel Crosson, Louise Thaden, and Ruth Nichols, among others, did not receive as much attention in history. I will highly r commend this book to my students.
Was this review helpful?
In 1929, pretty much anything that could be made a contest became a contest, and the bigger, better, and more dangerous, the better. Flying was still fairly new, and air shows attracted big crowds. There weren't a lot of pilots, and there were fewer pilots who were women, since women were deemed weaker and less mentally able to handle the rigors of flight. This, of course, was ridiculous, and the women who entered the first Air Derby were all different examples of this. The most familiar name to modern tweens was Amelia Earhart, but others, like Pancho Barnes, and Elinor Smith may ring bells as well. Starting with the childhoods of these women, Sheinkin shows us how they all defied current conventions to embrace air travel, from jumping off roofs as children to fearlessly taking lessons and even, in the case of Marvel Crosson, building their own planes! Once we understand all of the women involved (and some others, like Bessie Coleman, who didn't fly in it but contributed to women's aviation), we get to experience the race! Starting in California, weaving through Texas, and ending up in Cleveland, Ohio, the course was not easy to navigate, and perils were rife. The women's planes were sabotaged in many ways that weren't fully investigated and were never proven, even though they most likely lead to the death of one of the flyers. There were also accidents, sudden landings, and midair mishaps. The weather was hot, comforts were few, and the evenings of "rest" were filled with banquets and too many chicken dinners, but the women were determined and fearless. The rave hinged on not only the flying skill of the pilots, but the eccentricities of their planes, as well as sheer dumb luck. Several women had to stop out because of plane issues, and one woman flew past Columbus (the next to the last stop) and went straight to Cleveland, thereby disqualifying herself. In the end, Louise Thaden won. With the Great Depression starting just a few months after the Derby, aviation took a lot of blows, but many of the women continued to be involved in aviation and certainly set the stage for women to be active in the field.

Strengths: This will put some new names before many readers; I especially was intrigued by Pancho Barnes and Marvel Crosson and might have to see if there are any books about them! The details of the race are very exciting, and there is a good mix of what is going on and what the women felt abou tit. The research is remarkable-- luckily, there are memoirs by the flyers and lots of newspaper articles detailing every move! This reminded me a lot of Speno's The Great American Foot Race:Ballyhoo for the Bunion Derby!  which is set during this era. Great nonfiction choice for readers who want an exciting tale!

Weaknesses: There are some photographs, but there are also a lot of illustrations. I find that my students prefer photos if any exist. I know it is probably more expensive to include them, but the drawings never seem to be a draw for my readers. This was also a bit confusing at the beginning, since there were so many people who needed to be introduced.

What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and can see this getti
Was this review helpful?
Very interesting book about female pilots and all the difficulties they endured. Upon reading, you’ll get a small snippet into their lives from childhood up, which helps others to see they were children like most others but had a certain “spark” that led each of them to pursue learning to fly. Nevertheless this isn’t an easy read; by that I mean any student reading this should have a teacher, parent, or librarian to guide them into a deeper understanding.
I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for my volunteer review.
Was this review helpful?