Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summer Reading 2018 Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WWII

Author Sally Deng weaves the lives of three different women from three different countries into a cohesive story that explains how they all became pilots during World War II. Hazel visits a local airfield with her father every Saturday in San Francisco. Marlene's brother brings an airplane to their family home in England. And Lilya meets a pilot who lands a malfunctioning plane near her village in Russia. The narrative traces how each young woman receives her training and what position each filled during the war, and then they are given credit for paving the way for all the females who came after them in aviation. A final double-spread shows women of all backgrounds, some in civilian clothes and others in various uniforms (military, police, and space services).

Illustrations vary from small vignettes above or below the text, large spreads such as one of Marlene with flying goggles on and her hair blowing in the wind, and even large scenes showing battlefields or the Russian Night Witches dropping their bombs. A full page features African American female pilots with Bessie Coleman in the center. Another spread shows the pieces of an airplane spread around Marlene as the text tells of her collision with a high cable during a bad fog.

Details make it clear that these women and those who served with them worked just as hard or harder than male counterparts, even though they faced discrimination and negativity throughout their careers. The large format of the book and the beautiful illustrations make the content very accessible. Anyone who is interested in aviation, equal rights, and World War II history should get a copy of this book.

I received a review copy of the book from the publisher.

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