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Fearless: the Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith Hardcover – October 14, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525421734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525421733
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,622,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Deb HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Louise longingly looked over the fence watching the boys play baseball. Way back when girls simply were not allowed to do all the things that boys did, but she didn't really care what anyone said. As a matter of fact, "Most of the time, she did exactly as she pleased." When she was seven she found herself behind the wheel of her father's car. Her eyes were bright and she was grinning from ear to ear as she took off down the road "and left those boys in the dust!" Vrooom! Vrooom! Louise was just Louise and when she smashed into the chicken coop sending hens flying, she still continued to laugh and smile. One of the boys scratched his head wondering about her.

When Louise grew up she did many of the same things that other girls did, but never seemed satisfied. She tried her hand at many jobs from working as a nurse to being a beautician, but fast cars continued to be a draw. In the dark of night the only things that lit up the sky were a waning moon, the headlights of her black sedan, and her smile as she raced through the night. One day a man named "Big Bill" came to town. Young boys clustered around him as he showed them a poster of a racing car, but he wasn't looking for boys or men, he was looking for someone very different . . . he was "looking for a girl who could drive in a race as a gimmick, a joke." Louise was definitely up to the job, but no one reckoned that she would become so serious about racing. Racing cars was a tough, competitive sport, but would she be able to be good enough to race against seasoned veterans?

This is an amazing story about Louise Smith, a "fearless" race car driver.
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Format: Hardcover
Rosenstock is a "go-to" author for biographical stories about inspiring people. Be sure to read the intro (just before the first page of text) where Rosenstock defines "legacy" and includes a quote from Louise Smith about giving racing her all despite setbacks. Reading the intro and the quote (even projecting the quote) would make for a strong intro to one of the main ideas in this text. In addition, the author's note at the back of the book about Louise Smith could make for additional conversation--ask students to read with a partner or independently (4th grade and up) and discuss and write in response. There's also an author's note "thanks to" about her research which included numerous interviews. This note can launch research writing--which includes not just reading texts, but also interviewing experts and so forth. Rosenstock's book is "based on" her understanding of primary sources. Students could write historical stories "based on" their interpretation of primary sources.

Lots of potential with this one. Rosenstock has written several other biographical stories "based on" her interpretation of primary sources. Her work is worthy of an author study. This book would pair well with others about strong women like Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone.
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Format: Hardcover
I love Fearless! I purchased this book for a younger niece (4 years old), but my older niece (8 years old) ended up wanting to read it before bed too. She and her mom really liked it too. One of those that the words and language make you want to read and re-read it.

Here's a description from the Amelia Bloomer Project 2011 Top 10 List: Recommended Feminist Literature for Birth through 18:
"Louise Smith discovered her "need for speed" at a time when most girls didn't even drive; she went on to become a NASCAR racing legend."

For my part, the amazing illustrations really capture Louise Smith's "need for speed" as well as the time period, making it fun for both young and old to read and discover a "new" time or reminisce (making it a good launching pad for your own family stories as well). It's both a fun look into not-so-distant history, and a great look at how a young woman built a career on something she was passionate about--driving fast--and how she navigated not just fast curves in the roads, but other people's ideas of what was proper for a "lady" to do at that time. I wanna be more like Louise Smith! Thanks, Barbara, for writing this!
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Format: Hardcover
As the first woman elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Louise Smith enjoyed nothing more than stock car racing. In fact, Louise started driving in the early 1900s at the ripe age of seven when she hopped behind the wheel of her father's car and pushed the car as fast as it would go. Unfortunately she had not asked how to stop, so a chicken coop ended that ride. As a young adult, Louise tried a number of different jobs, but none appealed to her as much as racing. She wound up traveling across the country in this sport, with little safety equipment for protection and plenty of risk of crashing and earning next to nothing.

Told with a touch of humor and engaging illustrations, this biographical children's book shines a spotlight on a female trailblazer who children may not know much about. Key to the narrative is an important economics lessons about women breaking into non-traditional occupations. Parents may want to hide the car keys for a while so their children don't sneak behind the wheel like Louise did during her fateful first drive.
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