cover image Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight

Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight

Karyn Parsons, illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Little, Brown, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-45719-4

Stemming from Parsons’s Sweet Blackberry series of animated films featuring Black heroes, this biography introduces Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn her pilot’s license, against daunting odds. A star student at her rural Texas school, Bessie is enthralled to learn about Harriet Quimby, the first American woman pilot, and is determined to follow in her path. She juggles multiple jobs to help finance a trip to France, where she becomes a pilot in 1921 before returning to the U.S. to perform daring stunts at flying shows while pursuing another mission: fighting racism. While the verses’ cadence and rhyme sometimes falter, and the tale neglects to mention the figure’s Native American descent, Christie’s stylized illustrations bring life to Coleman’s trailblazing achievements. Ages 4–8. [em](Dec.) [/em]