From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This book has a terrific message for young girls about breaking barriers; unfortunately, essential information about Skelton is missing or incorrect. According to McCarthy, "At the age of twelve her father boosted her up, plopped her into a plane, and waved good-bye. Betty was flying by herself!" McCarthy notes that Skelton studied information she had requested from aircraft manufacturers (using the ruse of helping her dad buy a plane), but that obviously wasn't enough to qualify her to fly solo. The lack of a reference to the training she received from Ensign Kenneth Wright will leave young readers to think otherwise. McCarthy claims NASA blocked Skelton from flying with the Mercury 7, but she was never officially considered for inclusion on the crew. Skelton knew the invitation to undergo astronaut endurance tests was a publicity stunt, but McCarthy writes, "Previously only animals had gone into outer space. No man-or woman-had yet done so. This was Betty's chance!" In spirit, McCarthy's profile of Skelton is exciting, fun, and inspirational. However, like the trailblazing daredevil's planes and cars and boats, it speeds right past important facts as though they would detract from an amazing life when they most certainly wouldn't. McCarthy's familiar round-eyed renderings of her characters are endearing as always, and her palette, set in ample white space, is cheerful. But what could have been a great introduction to a fascinating thrill seeker sadly sacrifices accuracy for stylistic embellishment, and the resulting errors are too significant to overlook.-Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, ARα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
As a child in the 1930s, Betty Skelton played with toy airplanes and longed to become a pilot. And she did, taking her first solo flight at the age of 12 and getting her license at 16. With no opportunities to fly for a commercial airline or the U.S. Navy, she became a stunt pilot. Skelton, who set an altitude record in 1951 and retired soon afterward, was invited to undergo training tests with the Mercury 7 astronauts, though “NASA wasn’t ready to send a woman to space.” Painted in acrylics, the simplified illustrations feature big-eyed, amiable characters. The text is simplified, too, which makes it accessible to young children but sometimes leaves readers wondering about what was omitted. Short quotes from Skelton add her voice to the narrative. The book’s charm lies mainly in the illustrations, such as the cockpit scene in which Skelton flies barefoot, her red toenails gleaming. An attractive picture book introducing a lesser-known woman in American aviation. Grades K-3. --Carolyn Phelan