Author: Sherri L. Smith

Publisher: New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 2009
pages: 256
Author's website

Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Media Type: Book

Grade level: 7-Adult

Reader's annotation: Ida Mae loves to fly planes and desperately wants to serve her country after the US enters WWII, but she has two problems, she’s a woman and she’s black. Somehow she figures out a way to get in the air.

Within the first few pages we know that 17-year-old Ida Mae is a light skinned African American(Negro in those days), who is working extra to earn travel fare from Louisiana to Chicago where she will be allowed to get her pilot’s license. It is the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, then her brother enlists in the army and the stage is set. Skip ahead two years when Ida Mae manages to pass for a white woman and join the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program. Although she is doing something she loves, living a life of deception can be difficult.

For those who would like to see the real story, the PBS series from WGBH Boston, American Experience has an episode entitled “Fly Girls” made in 1999 that features interviews and archival footage of women from the WASP program.

Evaluation: This is a fictional account set in a very real historical setting which the author clarifies at the end of the book. Smith has a very engaging writing style, leaving just enough unsaid to keep you wanting more, bringing in details of wartime on the home front. Both girls and boys will enjoy this book.

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I grew up outside of Boston, went to college in western MA and lived in NYC dancing for several years before getting my teaching credentials and unintentionally moving to Santa Cruz CA. Married and divorced with two kids almost grown, a daughter in college and a son in high school, I am thrilled to be a librarian now, something that I should have done years ago. I love the applications of technology and realize that I have been interested in that since my first computer class back in 1986 - a new requirement for teaching degrees. Finally I can combine my love of curriculum, educational resources, working with adults and children, and technology applications.