From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist:
"There are a number of biographies of women pilots, and a few books about Women Airforce Pilots (WASP), including a novel for older readers, Sherri L. Smith's Flygirl (2009). This particularly well-crafted picture book for middle grades comes to the subject through Maggie Gee, a young girl with a dream....Based on interviews with Gee, this has a lovely, personal feel to it."
Review, Publishers Weekly:
"A triumphant story of determination."
Review, San Francisco Chronicle:
"The acrylic and colored-pencil art warmly emphasizes changing skies and layers of story, especially those about the lofty goals and indomitable grit that characterize Gee's life."
Review, Kirkus Reviews:
"An inspirational tale of an inspirational woman.
Review, School Library Journal:
"Rendered in acrylics and colored pencil, the colorful double-page illustrations are filled with detail and vibrantly depict the settings and events… This story should serve as inspiration for children that they can achieve whatever they put their minds to."
An intimate first-person narrative carries this story of Gee, who, as a child, dreamed of becoming a pilot, and went on to become one of just two Chinese-Americans in the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Radiant acrylic and colored pencil illustrations convey Maggie’s desire to take to the sky, as well as her cultural heritage. While serving, Gee is once even mistaken for an enemy pilot (“I felt like an exhibit at the county fair... the amazing Chinese American WASP”), and the book ends with her plane soaring above sherbet clouds: “Now I tell these stories to my children and grandchildren, and my tales must seem as far away to them as China.” A triumphant story of determination. Ages 9–12. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
As Maggie Gee tells her story, when other families went to ball games or movies on Sundays, hers went to the airport to watch the airplanes. Maggie's favorite pilot and role model was Amelia Earhart. Maggie reports her longing to fly around the world as she also listens to her mother's stories about her life in China and that of her grandmother there on the farm. When World War II begins, Maggie determines to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Learning to fly is as grand as she had imagined. She goes on missions that are both fun and frightening after she earns her wings. "My family's stories flew with me, but now I was living out my own true stories." This factual tale of one of the only two Chinese American WASPs is an inspiring one. Angel's naturalistic double-page acrylic and colored pencil scenes illustrate the brief text with useful images of Maggie's family and her flying experiences. He mixes light-hearted pictures of her flying low over a frightened cow with a scene of her biplane looping with a twisted tail of exhaust fumes. Her emotions come through clearly. Additional factual notes and photographs are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—This biographical picture book, based on the life of a Chinese-American pilot, has a first-person narrative. Gee describes her love of airplanes as a small child and of sharing with her siblings her dreams of someday flying over places such as the Eiffel Tower and the pyramids. Several years later, when World War II started, she learned about the Women Airforce Service Pilots and knew that she wanted to join them. After attending flight school, she was one of the few chosen to train as a WASP. The work was "hard and tiring and wonderful, all at once" and Gee soon earned her wings. She flew several missions, some of which were fun (training exercises were "like playing tag in the air") and some of which were frightening. Rendered in acrylics and colored pencil, the colorful double-page illustrations are filled with detail and vibrantly depict the settings and events. An author's note provides more information along with photographs of Gee and her family members. This story should serve as inspiration for children that they can achieve whatever they put their minds to.—Donna Atmur, Los Angeles Public Library
Maggie Gee longed to fly-but she grew up in the 1930s, when many women were not allowed to pilot planes. Instead, she watched in rapture at the airport, soaking up every detail of flight. After many years of dreaming, World War II suddenly changed Maggie's life forever. To serve her country, she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots-she was finally able to fly. Maggie was only one of two Chinese-American women in the WASP and was on occasion mistaken for an enemy pilot. But that never dampened her spirit. She just climbed back in her plane and looped through the sky. Moss tells Maggie's story in first-person narration, giving the text an immediate and personal tone, although the liberal and uncredited use of dialogue places this squarely in the realm of fiction. Angel's bold, bright acrylics burst forth with Maggie's determination and passion. In one spread, Maggie stands in a field with arms held wide-as her shadow casts the form of the plane she yearns to fly. An inspirational tale of an inspirational woman. (author's note, photos) (Picture book. 6-10)
Read an Excerpt
WHEN I WAS LITTLE, something special happened every Sunday. Other families went to baseball games or the movies, but not mine. Instead we would drive out to the airport. We weren't going on a trip or meeting someone from a flight. We went to watch the airplanes. For us, nothing could be as exciting as watching the planes take off. We loved how they bumped clumsily along the runway, only to suddenly leap up, break free from the ground, and soar away, far away, until the black speck of the plane disappeared. My brothers, sisters, and I would lick our only-on-Sunday lollipops and tip our heads back, letting the roar of the engines fill our ears. I loved how the vibrations echoed in my bones. Just being there, being part of it all, made me feel big and powerful.
I liked to search for my favorite pilot, Amelia Earhart. She had flown all the way across the ocean by herself, and I wanted to be just like her. Once I'm sure I saw her. When I waved, she saw me and waved back. It had to be her--I didn't know of any other women pilots back then. Just Amelia Earhart. And me. Well, I would be a pilot someday.