cover image Talkin' 'Bout Bessie

Talkin' 'Bout Bessie

Nikki Grimes. Orchard, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-439-35243-7

Historic flights take the spotlight in two fall titles. Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes, illus. by E.B. Lewis, recalls the life of the world's first licensed African-American female pilot through 20 eulogies, fictionalized perspectives based on actual people. ""I remember that bone-chillin' January day in 1892/ when Bessie's first cry raised the roof/ off that dirt-floor cabin, back in Texas,"" Bessie's father, George Coleman, begins. Newspaper editor Robert Abbott tells of her enrollment in a French flight school (""No flight school/ in our color-minded nation/ would accept a woman, or a Negro""). Lewis's elegant inset portraits appear alongside the words of each speaker; full-bleed, full-page paintings illustrate dramatic moments in Coleman's life.