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4.6 35
by Sherri L. Smith

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For fans of Unbroken and Ruta Sepetys.

All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she's in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots.


For fans of Unbroken and Ruta Sepetys.

All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she's in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she's willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one's self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately it's not what you do but who you are that's most important.

Read Sherri L. Smith's posts on the Penguin Blog

Editorial Reviews

Mary Quattlebaum
Careful research informs this story of a young woman struggling against racism and sexism to follow her dreams…A dynamic, heartfelt novel.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Smith (Lucy the Giant) brings a gripping perspective to bear upon a lesser-known piece of America's past: during WWII, the government recruited women pilots to fly non-combat missions, e.g., ferrying planes. Driven by a desire to fly and wanting to help her enlisted brother, Ida Mae decides to pass as white so she can join the program. The author has an expert grasp on her subject, and readers will learn plenty about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, from their impractical uniforms to the dangerous missions they flew without reward. Ida Mae's unique point of view gives her special insight into the often poor treatment of women: when a pilot friend gets frustrated by a stunt they are asked to perform, Ida realizes, "Lily's just finding out what I've been living with my whole life. She's never known what it was like to be hobbled by somebody else's rules." Key scenes demonstrate how much Ida has sacrificed by passing, as when her much darker mother visits her on Christmas and, à la Imitation of Life, poses as the family housekeeper. Although this book feels constructed to educate, readers will find the lesson well crafted. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Robyn Guedel
Ida Mae Jones, a young black girl from New Orleans has wanted to fly her whole life. During the Second World War, the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program is started, in which young women have a chance to help the war effort and fly planes. The program sounds perfect for Ida except for the facts that she is black and does not technically have a pilot's license. The story follows Ida's journey toward becoming a pilot and her many trials and tribulations along the way. Ida is considered a very light-skinned black woman and can easily pass for a white woman. She struggles with wanting to stay in the program while keeping true to herself. Although the book is fiction, there are many characters based on real people who served in the WASP program. The author does an excellent job of describing the planes without being boring. The story has many highs and lows and leaves the reader with a great message about how to be true to oneself while following one's dreams. Although the book is geared mostly toward teen girls, boys will find the flying sequences enjoyable. Even though the story takes place in the early 1940s, many themes are very relevant to today. Reviewer: Robyn Guedel
School Library Journal

Gr 6-10

Readers first meet 18-year-old Ida Mae Jones, a Louisiana girl who longs to be a pilot, in December 1941, on the eve of America's entrance into World War II. She is pretty and smart, but she has two huge strikes against her. She is black in an America where racism holds sway, and a competent pilot in an America in which she is denied her license because she is a woman. Smith explores these two significant topics and does a wonderful job of melding the two themes in one novel. Ida Mae is a likable character who is torn by the need to pass for white and fake a license in order to fulfill her dream. Readers learn a great deal about what it must have been like to be African American in the South during this period, as well as about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, a civilian group that performed jobs that freed male pilots for other things. The women's close friendships and the danger, excitement, and tragedy of their experience create a thrilling, but little-known story that begs to be told. The book is at once informative and entertaining. In the end, readers are left to wonder what Ida Mae Jones will do with the rest of her life.-Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
During World War II, a semi-military unit of women pilots, the WASPs, fought for their chance to serve their country. The WASPs did not accept "colored" women, however. That proves no obstacle for pilot Ida Mae Jones, who is light-skinned enough to pass for white, although she risks her life if she's caught and may even risk her eventual return to her family. This well-told, interesting story moves along at a good clip, as Smith paints a vivid picture of the WASPs, with the suspense of Ida Mae's deception always lurking beneath the surface. The misogynistic military and bigoted townsfolk can't stop Ida Mae and her new friends from doing their bit. Those friendships and a possible forbidden romance keep Ida Mae occupied when she isn't flying. A vibrant picture of WWII women and of Jim Crow as it was then. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
-A dynamic, heartfelt novel.+ -The Washington Post

-A thrilling, but little-known story that begs to be told. The book is at once informative and entertaining.+ -School Library Journal

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

-A dynamic, heartfelt novel.+ -The Washington Post

-A thrilling, but little-known story that begs to be told. The book is at once informative and entertaining.+ -School Library Journal

Meet the Author

Sherri L. Smith was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent most of her childhood reading books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked in movies, animation, comic books and construction. Sherri’s first book, Lucy the Giant, was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 2003. The Dutch translation, Lucy XXL (Gottmer, 2005), was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2005 De Gouden Zoen, or Golden Kiss, Awards for Children’s Literature in the Netherlands. Sherri’s novel, Sparrow, was chosen as a National Council for the Social Studies/Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and is also a 2009 Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Nominee. Upon the release of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet in February 2008, Sherri was featured as a spotlight author for The Brown Bookshelf's Black History Month celebration, 28 Days Later. Flygirl, an historical YA novel set during World War II, is her fourth novel.

“Cloudberries,” Ladybug Magazine (2001)

Lucy the Giant (2002)

Various stories, Bart Simpson Comics (2002)

Sparrow (2006)

Hot Sour, Salty, Sweet (2008)

Flygirl (January 2009)

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Flygirl 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
SoaringLove More than 1 year ago
I love the author for this book. She captivates me with her amazing writing. This book was unforgetable and extremely amazing ! I will always remember it for its edgyness, amzingness, and happiness ! Smith drives me nutts while she constantly continues to prove to me how amazing of a writer she is. I'm thinking, if she hasn't already written another book, she should do so NOW ! Flygirl has no inappropriate parts and not too much cussing. This book is definitly great. Great Story, Great Author
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
World War II is raging across the globe and Ida Mae Jones is doing everything she can on the homefront to support the war effort. With her brother, Thomas, off fighting in the Pacific, Ida Mae wants nothing more than to see the boys come home safely.

Donating bacon grease and nylon stockings is not enough. Ida Mae cannot just sit at home when she knows that so many are dying overseas. When she sees an article in the newspaper announcing a new army initiative - WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) - she knows that she has found her calling. Like the Russians, Uncle Sam is finally letting women do more.

Flying has always been a passion for Ida Mae, since the first time her daddy took her up in his "Jenny," a Curtiss JN-4. She might not have a license, due to a sexist flight instructor, but Ida Mae is an experienced pilot. In fact, she feels more at home in the sky than on the ground. Her father flew to dust crops, and now Ida Mae wants to fly in the army.

There is just one problem. WASP is a program for white women, and Ida Mae is colored.

With her light skin and brown hair, she just might be able to pass for a white woman. To pursue her dream of becoming a WASP, Ida Mae must deny her identity and face unimaginable dangers. Graduating from the rigorous training in Sweetwater, Texas, to become a full-fledged WASP will be no easy task.

Can one colored girl prove to herself and the world that the sky really is the limit?

Sherri L. Smith smoothly incorporates extensive historical research to paint a bold and extraordinary portrait of the courageous women of the WASP. Like her idols, Jackie Cochran and Nancy Love, Ida Mae is a plucky, adventurous heroine, defying race and gender barriers to surpass even her own expectations. Smith is honest in portraying the often rough and unfair treatment that women of WASP endured, the unappreciated sacrifices that these women made all in the name of a country that did not see them as equals to men.

Ida Mae herself says it best - "We don't get any medals for the things we do. We don't get a parade when we go home." Even without the fanfare and celebrations that they deserved, the WASP played an essential role in winning World War II.

And for Ida Mae? "It's all the reward we need."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book that i loved so much i will recomend this book to all my friends. Not many books can make me cry at some of the event twists but this did. One reason why i loved it so much was because it takes place during world war two and talks about the first women allowed to fly in the military.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ida mae is very brave and strong I feel bad for her because of her dad.it is very sad and sad ehen her big brother had to leave to go to the army .she was trying to get her friend to do somthing to help snd the war is also like 9.1.1.
Airship27 More than 1 year ago
In the winter of 1941, Ida Mae Jones has graduated from high school in Slidell, Louisiana and lives on a strawberry farm with her widowed mother, her grandfather, older brother Tom and younger brother Abel. Tom is a student at a Negro college studying medicine and Ida Mae works as a maid for a well-to-do white family in nearby New Orleans with her best friend, Jolene. Before his death in a freakish accident, Ida¿s father had bought a plane for crop dusting and taught her how to fly. It is her life¿s passion. Sadly no respectable flight school will give her a pilot¿s license because of her gender. As December rolls around, she is resigned to the fact that she may never realize her dream of becoming a professional aviator. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and the United States enters the world war already raging in Europe, everything changes for this spirited young woman.

Two years later, Thomas is in the army serving in the South Pacific and Ida is going stir crazy at home wanting to get involved. When she learns that the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program is recruiting women to help fly planes across the country, her dream is rekindled. This unique organization was a merger of WFTD (Women¿s Flying Training Detachment) and the WAFS (Women¿s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron) whereby the US Army Air Force employed civilian female pilots to fly military aircrafts on missions that ranged from ferrying planes from factories to military bases and towing aerial targets. They made it possible to free up thousands of male pilots for combat roles overseas. Sadly, in 1943 they were also discriminatory against blacks and qualified Negro women were refused entry into the corp.

Which is where Sherri Smith¿s story takes-off much like her high flying heroine. Ida Mae is a light skinned Negro who can easily pass for white. She is also a person of high moral character and the realization that she must lie to achieve her goal of joining the WASP is a truly bitter pill. Against her family¿s wishes, Ida applies for flight school and is accepted, her subterfuge successful. Soon she finds herself stationed at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, with hundreds of other would-be pilots. There she meets two other spirited girls in Patsy ¿Cakewalk¿ Kake, a veteran wing-walker and barnstormer and Lily Lowenstein, a wealthy socialite from New York. They become close friends and in the weeks and months ahead, support each other through the grueling training.

Smith¿s research is flawless and she vividly recreates the daily life of a WASP. For the most part, these brave young women were given very little credit by their male counterparts, when all too often they performed to higher standards then the men. Time and time again, WASP pilots were put to the test and their skills and courage always won out. Thus Smith weaves both a marvelous historical narrative that is one hundred percent factual with a warm and endearing fiction. It is a seamless tale that is both sad and inspiring. FLYGIRL is one of those rare books you wish would never end and Ida Mae Jones is a character you will never forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rowdycat More than 1 year ago
Ida Mae is a young girl with a passion--for flying, but even though her father taught her to fly, when she goes to get her flying license she is turned down because she is "colored." It's the beginning of World War II in Louisiana, and things are not good for black people in the South. Ida is very light-skinned and when she reads that the government is training young women to fly as WASPs to free up the men for combat, she decides to see if she can "pass" for white and get into the program. Thus starts the beginning of her dream--to fly, even if she has to lie to get into the program. She sees all around her how very different things are for "coloreds" and whites and knows how dangerous her ruse could be for her if she's found out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! You should read it! :-D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A gret book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, it was such a beautiful story i want to read it over and over again !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very nice book. It really explains about Ida's life and her challanges when she lost her father.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is there going to be a second book?????? I read this a long time ago and i though it deserved a sequal? I looked it up and can up with no info so i am now looking to u guys. HELP!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an inspation to me i am light skinded and i learned that it dosent matter how you look you are beautiful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this and recomend it to kids who can read a book with a slighty boring beggining
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!!! Very sad and inspiring a must read:):):)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantabulous book u should read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing inspiring undescribably fantastic. A rollercoaster of terrific emotions. :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago