Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton
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Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton

by Meghan McCarthy
     
 

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A riveting picture book biography of Betty Skelton, aviation and auto racing pioneer, from award-winning author/illustrator Megan McCarthy.

In the 1930s most girls were happy playing with dolls. But one girl, Betty Skelton, liked playing with airplanes, watching them fly around outside, and even flying airplanes herself! She lived for an adventure—in

Overview

A riveting picture book biography of Betty Skelton, aviation and auto racing pioneer, from award-winning author/illustrator Megan McCarthy.

In the 1930s most girls were happy playing with dolls. But one girl, Betty Skelton, liked playing with airplanes, watching them fly around outside, and even flying airplanes herself! She lived for an adventure—in the air, the water, and on land—and nothing could stop her, especially not being a girl.

When Betty Skelton was young there weren’t many women flying airplanes or racing cars, but she wouldn’t let that stop her. She was always ready to take on a challenge, and she loved to have fun. Beetty rode motorcycles, raced cars, jumped out of planes, and flew jets, helicoptors, gliders, and blimps. And by the time she was an adult, Betty was known in the press as the “First Lady of Firsts!”

This vibrantly illustrated picture book biography reveals the exciting life of a brave pioneer who followed her dreams and showed the world that women can do anything!

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Sarah Harrison Smith
McCarthy's googly-eyed portraits make Skelton's story amusing as well as inspiring.
Publishers Weekly
McCarthy has made a career out of picture-book biographies of unexpected subjects, and this thoroughly inspiring portrait of Betty June Skelton (1926–2011) reveals a woman who embodies a “need for speed.” Direct quotations from Skelton fill her story with personality. She was obsessed with flying from an early age, and she made the newspapers for a solo flight on her 16th birthday—never mind that her father had already plopped her into a cockpit four years earlier. “It wasn’t quite legal then so I couldn’t tell anybody,” she recalled. Skelton went on to break records on land, sea, and air, and she even had a shot at becoming the first woman in space. In McCarthy’s succinct prose and wide-eyed acrylic cartooning, Skelton comes through as a woman eager to break barriers and try anything. Ages 4–8. (June)
From the Publisher
DAREDEVIL, • starred review

Ever hear of Betty Skelton? Most people haven’t, yet this woman was a whirling daredevil who liked to go fast and broke records in aviation and auto racing.

In the 1930s, most girls played with dolls, but not Betty: She was obsessed with airplanes, and at age 16, she soloed. She wanted to be a commercial pilot and fly in the Navy, but she was laughed at. So she became a stunt pilot with her dog, Little Tinker, by her side and no shoes on her feet. In 1951 she broke an altitude record. Then she traded planes for race cars and drove into a new career, breaking the women’s record at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a speed of 315.74 mph. those challenges weren’t enough for Betty, and she went on to driving a stunt boat. What was next? She trained to be an astronaut, but NASA wasn’t ready to send a female into space. Even so, Betty had “proven that women could do it as well as men.” The acrylic cartoon illustrations play up Betty’s spunk and derring-do with McCarthy’s trademark googly eyed expressions. Her achievements are stated in the straightforward narrative, but the author allows readers to tap into her personality through use of quotes: When Betty flew higher than Mount Everest, she said: “My feet darn near froze to death.”

McCarthy has spun an adventurous story about this little-known woman, highlighting her groundbreaking triumphs with respectful whimsy. (“Fun Facts,” additional quotes, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
In the early 1930s, Betty Skelton lived with her parents near a navy base in Pensacola, Florida where she watched the naval airplanes fly overhead. Her dream was to fly an airplane. She did so at the age of twelve (although it wasn't quite legal), and she flew solo at the age of sixteen. She became a stunt pilot and retired in the early 1950s. Betty wasn't finished with her daredevil lifestyle. She became a race car driver and broke the women's speed record. She became the first female boat jumper even though she couldn't swim. She was the first woman invited to train with the Mercury 7 astronauts. The upbeat, conversational writing style reflects Betty's derring-do attitude. She wasn't deterred when told women didn't do those things. She found other ways to fulfill her dreams. The cartoon-style illustrations make this child-friendly and inviting. McCarthy varies the illustrations, sometimes making them look like photos in an album (the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah); sometimes adding smaller illustrations on the page (the astronaut tests, stunts on water skis); and sometimes just a wordless, double-page spread (Betty flying solo). This variation adds greatly to the reader's understanding of Betty's feelings and her accomplishments. The back matter includes Fun Facts, a Timeline, Betty Quotes, and a Selected Bibliography. This picture book biography informs the reader about a not-too-distant past when Betty was defying traditional gender roles. It is an excellent choice for readers. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
Kirkus Reviews
Ever hear of Betty Skelton? Most people haven't, yet this woman was a whirling daredevil who liked to go fast and broke records in aviation and auto racing. In the 1930s, most girls played with dolls, but not Betty: She was obsessed with airplanes, and at age 16, she soloed. She wanted to be a commercial pilot and fly in the Navy, but she was laughed at. So she became a stunt pilot with her dog, Little Tinker, by her side and no shoes on her feet. In 1951 she broke an altitude record. Then she traded planes for race cars and drove into a new career, breaking the women's record at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a speed of 315.74 mph. Those challenges weren't enough for Betty, and she went on to driving a stunt boat. What was next? She trained to be an astronaut, but NASA wasn't ready to send a female into space. Even so, Betty had "proven that women could do it as well as men." The acrylic cartoon illustrations play up Betty's spunk and derring-do with McCarthy's trademark googly eyed expressions. Her achievements are stated in the straightforward narrative, but the author allows readers to tap into her personality through use of quotes: When Betty flew higher than Mount Everest, she said: "My feet darn near froze to death." McCarthy has spun an adventurous story about this little-known woman, highlighting her groundbreaking triumphs with respectful whimsy. ("Fun Facts," additional quotes, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442422629
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date:
06/04/2013
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
499,416
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Meghan McCarthy is the award-winning author and illustrator of many books for children, including Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs; Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton; Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum; City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male; and Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at Meghan-McCarthy.com.

Meghan McCarthy is the award-winning author and illustrator of many books for children, including Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs; Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton; Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum; City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male; and Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at Meghan-McCarthy.com.

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