Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic

I just received a copy of Night Flight written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor.  It's a beautiful picture book published by Simon and Schuster.  Wendell Minor discussing the process of illustrating the book is definitely worth the watch (click on the title and his name).
     I've always been fascinated by Amelia Earhart's story and this book only adds to the magic!  It's written as a lyrical account of her most famous flight across the Atlantic in 1932.  She became the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo (and was the second person to do so) and her name has gone down in history as one our most famous aviators. 
     I was intrigued by the way the author captured every detail of the flight using such rich language, poetically and purposefully.  Written in mostly third person narrative mode, the text draws the reader into the flight with lines like, "Her stomach churns from the smell of leaking gas," and "Amelia Earhart leans back in the cockpit.  There is an unbelievable stillness inside her."  It's beautifully written.  
     And, Wendell Minor's illustrations are captivating.  Starting from the first page with Amelia's eyes gleaming through the windshield of her red Vega to the lightning that flashes across the sky in the middle of the ocean to the look of worry on her face partway through the flight to Amelia's victorius wave at the farmer at the end of the book, Minor uses color and light to create the perfect sense of what the flight must have been like for Amelia.  I found myself as captivated by the illustrations as I was by the author's words.
     Night Flight will be the perfect edition to my collection of books that show how important "endurance" and "stamina" are to become successful (especially as learners).  I can hardly wait to read it to my students.  Amelia's story is an amazing combination of courage and strength.  And, both author and illustrator captured her story in a unique and beautiful way!

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