Monday, March 7, 2011

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

As long as I can remember, I've always been intrigued by Amelia Earhart's story. Her courage was inspiring, and her disappearance always seemed very sad to me. But I've never really read a lot about her life or her disappearance in 1937. As soon as I received a copy of Candace Fleming's, Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart, I was eager to read it.

First off, I have to tell you that I always love reading Candace Fleming's work. Her non-fiction is always thoroughly researched, and she does an exceptional job of weaving her research together to tell a compelling, engaging story. This was definitely the case with The Lincoln's: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary (my review here). And her fiction picture book Clever Jack Takes the Cake is well, clever, and very well-written (my review here). So, I expected to find a clever, thorough, and engaging story about Amelia Earhart, and of course, I did.

I wondered how Ms. Fleming would address all of the myths surrounding Earhart herself and her disappearance, and in the very beginning of the book, Ms. Fleming describes how she spent two years digging through research to find the real Amelia. She says, "...the person I eventually uncovered surprised me. Amelia Earhart was so much more than a pilot. She was a savvy businesswoman...a popular lecturer; a fashion icon;.... But most important, she symbolized the new opportunities awaiting women in the twentieth century"  (ix).

And with that, Amelia's story begins. The book alternates between July 1937 -- the time of her disappearance and the days of searching that followed it -- and the story of her life from the time she was born. The different chapters present an Amelia Earhart that is not only courageous but super smart and savvy and likable. There are photos of Amelia and her family, pictures of Amelia's report card from school, pilot's license, newspaper clippings, and handwritten notes from Amelia herself. Informative sidebars are weaved throughout the book and provide even more interesting information about Amelia. There's even a sidebar that introduces the Morse Code.

The back matter includes an extensive bibliography, websites where readers can learn more about Earhart, source notes, picture credits, and an index.

The story itself really takes you back to the past, and the chapters about her disappearance provide an excellent picture of what the entire country was feeling when her plane disappeared.

I think anyone who reads the book will learn more about Amelia Earhart than they previously knew, and kids who are interested in aviation, women's history, non-fiction, or who just want to read an interesting story will enjoy this book. I give this my highest recommendation.

Age range: 9 -12 | Publisher: Schwartz & Wade, February 2011 | ISBN: 978-0375841989 | Source: Review copy from publisher

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