Brave Harriet: The First Woman to Fly the English Channel


On a clear morning in 1912, Harriet Quimby had a vision—she would become the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel. If she were to veer off course by even five miles, she could end up in the North Sea, never to be heard from again. But she took the risk, anyway.
Bestselling author Marissa Moss and award-winning artist C. F. Payne team up to tell this little-known historic story of a spirited woman...

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On a clear morning in 1912, Harriet Quimby had a vision—she would become the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel. If she were to veer off course by even five miles, she could end up in the North Sea, never to be heard from again. But she took the risk, anyway.
Bestselling author Marissa Moss and award-winning artist C. F. Payne team up to tell this little-known historic story of a spirited woman who dared to take flight.

The first American woman to have received a pilot's license describes her April 1912 solo flight across the English Channel, the first such flight by any woman.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The creators of True Heart once again laud a historical heroine with gentle restraint. Here they give pilot Harriet Quimby just the right note of quiet confidence: "I hadn't grown up wishing to be a pilot, because there were no planes when I was a girl, but once I saw one, I knew where I belonged there, at the controls, with blue sky all around me." Harriet wins her license from a skeptical board ("No woman has ever received a license to fly," a licensing official says), works as a barnstormer, then conceives the idea of crossing the English Channel. Her pilot friend Gustav Hamel tries to dissuade her, offering to fly for her in disguise; Harriet refuses. She completes her mission, but the sinking of the Titanic on the same day overshadows news of her success. "But it didn't matter, because I knew I had done it," she says. Payne's spreads resemble period photographs stop-action shots of wood-framed airplanes taken from striking angles, a newsboy reading the headlines about the Titanic and Harriet looking wistfully across the Channel, her skirt billowing in the wind. Pair this with Julie Cummins's Tomboy of the Air (Children's Forecasts, July 2) for a complete picture of the first women pilots. Ages 6-9. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In her own lively voice, Harriet Quimby conveys her excitement about airplanes and her eagerness to fly. At a time when no woman has ever become a licensed pilot, Harriet is flying in air shows. She then determines to be the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel. Despite the danger and attempts to discourage her, in April of 1912 she braves the elements and succeeds. Ironically, the news of her achievement is eclipsed by the sinking of the Titanic. Payne's single and double-page, fully developed, mixed media scenes describe the events with a naturalism that provides a convincing sense of history. His choice of perspectives adds significantly to the feeling of flying, to the sense of romance experienced by Harriet. A note adds many facts about her life beyond the flight itself. 2001, Silver Whistle/Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Newspaper reporter Harriet Quimby, the first American woman to receive her pilot's license, found great joy in the sky. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
As they did in True Heart (1999), Moss and Payne have produced a vivid story, with equally vibrant illustrations, inspired by a historical event. Harriet Quimby was the first woman to fly alone across the English Channel, a feat that went all but unnoticed because it took place on April 16, 1912-the day the Titanic sank. Quimby was already a newspaper reporter, and she became the first American woman to receive a pilot's license. Told in the first person, much of the description of her brief, cold, and daring flight across the Channel is taken from her own account of it for the New York Herald. Moss weaves a rich tapestry of description for Quimby's story, full of heightened but crystalline language describing the desire to fly, and the fulfillment of that desire. Payne's illustrations have wonderful heft and texture and just the right period feel. Details of the "aeroplane" and of the characters' gesture and dress are done with wit and grace. Aviator Gustav Hamel's lame-brained plot to impersonate Harriet is straightfowardly presented in the text but with no attempt to hide its foolish sexism. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152023805
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 805,480
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

MARISSA MOSS is best known for her handwritten illustrated journals, including the enormously popular Amelia series. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    Exhibition Aviator

    Having read the summary of 'Brave Harriet' (but not yet read the book) I can determine that either the book gets it wrong, or the person who wrote the summary has it wrong. I'm glad to see Harriet's story in a book for young people. As long as the effort is made, however, it would be easy to stick to the facts instead of 'winging it'. I would have preferred for example, to see Harriet described as an exhibition aviator instead of 'barnstorming'. a) Barnstorming is a term reserved for the 1920s and 1930s era when pilots hopped across the US selling rides in their planes. Harriet did nothing like that. b) Harriet was NOT the first woman to receive her pilot's license. She was the first American woman to receive her license (in 1911). There were others in Europe before her. c) Harriet did NOT fly across the English Channel on the same day the Titanic sank. The Titanic sank on April 14, 1912. Harriet Quimby crossed the English Channel two days later, on April 16, 1912. We have a responsibility to get it right from grammar school to college for our students. I hope that in any further aviation stories by this author the facts are valid. And of course, if the book has it right, and the summary is wrong - then I'd be happy to add another star or two. gbk

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