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Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of Brave Bessie Coleman Hardcover – November 4, 1996

9 customer reviews

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Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast
Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship until they discover that there's only one drop of maple syrup left. Who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast. See more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1922 Bessie Coleman, born in Texas in 1893 to a Native American father and an African American mother, became the first licensed black aviator in the world. Her tale is one of extraordinary perseverance; among other obstacles, she was denied admission to U.S. flying schools and ended up traveling to France to get her pilot's license. Lindbergh (The Midnight Farm) relates Coleman's life story in the broadest of strokes, couching it in bouncy if sometimes heavy-handed rhymed verse: " 'Come and fly, boys and girls! Black or white, short or tall,/ Come and fly, everybody! Come, answer my call-/ The air has no barrier, boundary, or wall./ The blue sky has room for us all.' " She chooses the elements likeliest to inspire a young audience and throws in the occasional unfamiliar term ("a Richthofen Glide"), but leaves out, even in her explanatory note, such facts as the year of Coleman's death. Giving the narrative additional lift, Paparone's (Who Built the Ark?) lustrous, appealingly primitive acrylic art effectively conveys a sense of the '20s. Not surprisingly, the sky figures prominently in most of the pictures; a number offer an airborne view of the world, conveying the excitement of a perspective obviously dear to Coleman. Ages 6-9.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-This narrative poem using simple rhymes tells Bessie Coleman's life story and creates a cadence of bold rhythms that young children will want to hear again and again. Paparone's superb folk-art illustrations, rendered in brilliantly colorful acrylic paintings, provide accurate visual details of the Texas cotton fields of Bessie's childhood, Chicago's vibrant African-American community during World War I, and Paris in the 1920s. Perspective is perfectly realized in the end papers, which give bird's-eye views reflecting the world Bessie must have seen in her first courageous flights. There are jewels of subtlety in Paparone's illustrations, too. In one early scene from Bessie's Texas school years, readers spy students' artwork on a bulletin board. There among the horses and houses that other children drew is Bessie's picture of white clouds against a blue, blue sky. She had already imagined her future, "flying free, flying true." This appealing story is all about having and realizing dreams. Even though Bessie Coleman died tragically young, Nobody Owns the Sky is very much a celebration of life as well as a tribute to a young woman who dared to dream big. It is a splendid picture-book biography of the first order.
Jerry D. Flack, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1st edition (November 4, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564025330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564025333
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.8 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on November 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quick - name a female aviator!

Yes, yes, Amelia Earhart. Now name another one. Can't do it, can you? Well, how about Bessie Coleman - first African-American, man or woman to have a pilot's license, and first American of ANY race or gender to have an international pilot's license - and she did it two years before Amelia, too! (She had to go overseas to get that license, because flight schools in the US wouldn't take a black aviator, and black aviators in the US wouldn't train a woman.)

Aviators in general make great picture book heroes, doing something that was brand new and scary and didn't involve deliberate violence. And Bessie Coleman - wow! She ought to be better known!

So why only three stars? Because, honestly, I don't think this book offers a good treatment of her.

The artwork is so-so, but I could live with that. What I can't live with are the words. I have nothing against a rhyming book. However, this book has a very set jaunty rhythm with a rhyme scheme that runs A-A-A-A-A-A for every verse. The end result is that major issues such as racism, sexism, and Bessie Coleman's eventual *death* come out sounding like... like humor! The nicest thing I can say about it is that it's clunky:

Bessie's life was not long, but she flew far and wide
In Chicago she showed off a Richthofen Glide
Her air shows in Boston left crowds starry-eyed;
But in Jacksonville, Florida, everyone cried
Because Bessie's plane failed, and she fell, and she died
"Farewell to Brave Bessie", they sighed

It goes on like that for the whole book. And the little coda that takes her specific accomplishments and turns them into a general paean about flying like birds is... well, I'm not a great fan of it.

I'm going to try Talkin' 'bout Bessie instead. Maybe that'll give me what I was looking for here.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Absolutely awesome picture book biography! Told in verse and beautifully illustrated, the historical link between author and subject makes for an amazing teaching tool in the classroom! This book is so very underrated in the public's eyes. Buy a class set for your classroom!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What an inspiring story for children to read. Bessie Coleman overcame various obstacles to become the first Black Aviator in the world, I believe that all children can benefit from her story and see that if they want to achieve something it takes determination and a "Can-Do" attitude. The rhyming pattern used to tell the story was great for younger grade-level students and the illustrations were colorful as well. I had an opportunity to read this to second graders, they were actively engaged. I followed up with a arts & craft activity based on the story, which students enjoyed. I would recommend this book, not only for Black History Month or Women's History Month, but anytime of the year.
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By Anon on July 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For several years I used this precious story in my classroom for units on heroes, flight or Black History month. It was well suited for primary and junior classes. The students never got tired of Brave Bessie.

Thanks, Reeve!
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By CrchrTchr on October 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love using this book for multiple purposes. It's a great book for introducing Responsive Classroom: Hopes and Dreams. I have also used it during African American History Month. Well worth the minimal cost on Amazon.
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