cover image Ruth Law Thrills a Nation

Ruth Law Thrills a Nation

Don Brown / Author, Don Brown / Illustrator Houghton Mifflin H

Brown soars in his children's book debut with this true story of a little-known heroine. In 1916 Ruth Law set an American record by flying cross-country nonstop for 590 miles. She had hoped to pilot her small plane all the way from Chicago to New York City in a single day (she ended up spending the night in Binghamton), but hers was nevertheless a remarkable accomplishment--the extraordinary nature of which Brown recreates for his audience with a host of riveting details. To accustom herself to the cold weather (she flew an open-cockpit plane), Law spent the night before her flight in a tent on the roof of a Chicago hotel; she wore two woolen suits and two leather suits, but ``covered her bulky outfit with a skirt. In 1916, a polite lady always wore a skirt.'' She flew a tiny, old plane because the manufacturer refused to sell her a newer, bigger model (he ``did not believe a woman could fly a large plane''); to set her course, she relied on maps she had taped together and attached to her leg; forced to land in a field, she secured her plane overnight by tying it to a tree. As the author points out, the pilot who broke Law's record a year later was also a woman. Brown's full-page, pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures feature striking amalgams of variegated blue and purple hues; like the text they convey the drama of Law's feat. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)