From School Library Journal
Gr 3-4–“Fast! Faster! Flying! Free!” is the mantra of this picture-book biography of a female pioneer in the then 100 percent male world of auto racing. In an era full of no's, don'ts,” and can't's for women, Louise's fearless daring behind the wheel brought her to the attention of an entrepreneur looking for a girl driver as a gimmick to attract a larger audience in the stands. He opened a door Louise never thought to go through, and she never looked in that particular rear mirror again. Rosenstock's brief, fast text follows the dust laid by her spunky daredevil of a heroine, while Dawson's color-saturated paintings portray a determined woman who was still driving fast cars years after she left the circuit. This slender, brief biography of the first woman elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame will be an eye-opener to NASCAR beginner-buffs and welcomed by young sports fans (and feminists) assigned a biography book report.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In 1923, when she was 7 years old, Louise Smith crashed a car into a chicken coop, and after that, until her death at age 90, she never stopped driving, or crashing, even when she needed bifocals to see the road. While still adhering to a traditional life path (marriage, a nursing career), she went out at night and drove “until she felt that she was finally going fast enough to get somewhere—even if she always wound up right back home.” Eventually, she began entering races from Daytona to Canada in the early days of what would become NASCAR, and she competed confidently, becoming the first woman elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Realistic, action-filled, mixed-media images and a well-paced text express the exciting, biographical story of a figure rarely featured in children’s books. Anchored by a strong author’s note, this account of a person once called “the craziest woman we know” is a great choice for both racing enthusiasts and children seeking stories about female trailblazers. Grades 1-3. --Andrew Medlar