Friday, May 27, 2011

Picture Book: Night Flight (by Robert Burleigh)

On May 20, 1932, Amelia Earhart leaves Harbour Grace, Newfoundland (Canada) as the “sunset ripples over the rough-hewn airfield.”  Her red Vega speeds down the runway and “swoops like a swallow over dark puddles and patches of tundra” until it is high in the sky.   As she crosses the “dark and seething ocean,” she thinks back to her adventurous childhood and her first experience seeing an aircraft.   At midnight, “blackness erupts.  Clouds heave.  The sky unlocks.”   The tumultuous storm is dangerous and blinding.  Then, her altimeter breaks!  She does not know how high she is flying!   The pilot and plane struggles through the icy storm, coming close enough to the Atlantic Ocean that it “stares up with its huge uncaring eye.  Breakers rise like teeth from it angry mouth.”   Alone, Amelia flies on across the seemingly endless ocean, despite the difficulties and setbacks.   Finally, the sunlight sifts through the clouds.  Soon, she spots the Irish countryside as it “spreads out like a green fan beneath her.”   She lands safely on a lush green field.  A farmer comes running, shocked to see a flying machine with a women inside it!   Amelia simply smiles and says, “Hi, I’ve come from America.” 

Evaluation;
Ever since I was a teenager, I have found Amelia Earhart to be a fascinating figure.  When I came across Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic during a blog hop recently, I decided to check it out.  I was not disappointed.  Author Robert Burleigh’s poetic language and stunning imagery make Night Flight a literary must-read. (See phrases in quotes above for a sampling.)  He uses similes and personification to capture the pleasure and excitement of flight as well as the peril and fear of the stormy night flight.   Amelia Earhart is a wonderful role model for all people, but especially young women.  She overcame gender barriers and pioneered air travel.  (The author provides additional information about her life at the back of the book.)  She spoke boldly, acted courageously, and lived fully.   Rich in figurative language and exemplifying a thrilling plot, this book will be enjoyed by youngsters and adults ages 8 and up.   

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