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The Hallelujah Flight Hardcover – January 7, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

"Great as a read-alone as well as for telling aloud, this story serves to rescue two worthy men from historical obscurity. Students would benefit from knowing about them and their "Hallelujah Flight." (starred review)

From Booklist

In 1932, James Banning was the first African American to complete a transcontinental flight. Told from the viewpoint of his young copilot and mechanic, Thomas Allen, this dramatic picture book relates of their historic journey, in which they flew in a small plane from Los Angeles to New York in 21 days. Unframed, double-page paintings show the pair close-up in the cramped cockpit as they fly over the Grand Canyon and head into storms, the propeller whirring, while the ground passes not too far below. Some locals help, showing the kindness of family and friends, but the dramatic pictures also reveal the prejudice the pilots encountered when they are refused use of washrooms and restaurants. Finally, they reach New York and receive a hero’s welcome in Harlem. Along with the drama of the pioneer flight, kids will also enjoy the irreverent fun of the Flying Hoboes in their flying jalopy. The story of the pilots’ bonding is as memorable as the breakthrough flight. An introductory author’s note offers cultural and historical context. Grades K-3. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399247890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399247897
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 0.3 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Yana V. Rodgers on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Some folks thought that James Banning had lost his marbles when he announced he wanted to fly his airplane from California to New York. After all, it was the Great Depression and virtually impossible to buy all the mechanical parts and supplies that were needed to fix up the old plane and prepare for such a long trip. Not to worry, said Banning; he planned to stop frequently and solicit donations, food, and fuel along the way, in exchange for letting people sign their names on the wing tips during this historical occasion.

Banning and his skilled mechanic and copilot Thomas Allen became the first African Americans to fly coast to coast across the United States. The "Flying Hoboes," as they were nicknamed, completed the trip in 21 days. Although they encountered much generosity on the ground along the way, they also came across prejudice and barriers to entry in some establishments where they stopped to rest and refuel.

Beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist John Holyfield, this engaging book shines the spotlight on two relatively unknown historical figures who overcame not only extremely tight financial constraints but also institutionalized discrimination by race as they flew their way into the record books. Parents and teachers looking to expand their children's book collections to include new works of historical fiction will find this book an appealing choice.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Phil Bildner and artist John Holyfield have produced an outstanding new picture book on little-known African-American aviator James Banning, the first black aviator to complete a trans-continental flight in 1932. Narrated by Banning's mechanic and co-pilot, Thomas Allen, the book is based on the story of their journey, undertaken in an airplane that appeared to be barely flight-worthy. "The crew from the airport thought we'd about lost our marbles...'The Flying Hoboes!' they all called us." Although they had almost no money for food and gasoline along the way, Banning decided that anyone who contributed any kind of supplies for their trip could write their name on the tip of the wing, getting into the history books along with the pilots. Sure enough, despite the hard times, people all along the way pitched in to help. But times were not only tough in terms of finances; racism also reared its ugly head along the route. In one stop, they were not allowed to use the restroom, and in another town no one would serve them at a diner. After a 3,300 mile and 21 day trip, the pilots arrive safely in Harlem, where they receive a hero's welcome, complete with ticker-tape parade.

The art in this book is especially noteworthy, and you can get a sneak preview of some of the illustrations at the author's website. The artwork, done in acrylics, offers an exuberant style and features unusual perspectives, such as in a particularly joyful 2-page spread which shows the two pilots flying in their underwear over the California desert, where the pilots seem to be about to soar off the edge of the book!
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Format: Hardcover
James Banning stood on a box dreamily eying a dilapidated biplane. The propeller leaned up against the plane's sorry looking side and even a broken wing tip was ready to fall to the ground. Undeterred by the plane's condition, James turned to Thomas Allen and firmly stated, "Mr. Allen, my dream is to fly a plane from sea to shining sea, and this here OXX6 Eagle Rock is our plane." It was Thomas's job to fix it, but money sure was tight in those days. James had it all figured out and by hook or by crook they were going to do it. If people were allowed the privilege of signing their names to the wing tip, perhaps they would offer up a little bit of gas and some supplies. YES! That might just be the ticket.

Of course everyone laughed and poked fun of them as they proudly worked on their crate and very soon they were dubbed the "Flying Hoboes." On September 19, 1932 they were aloft over the skies of Dycer Airport near Los Angeles, soaring through the clouds on the first leg of their journey. Clickety, clack, clickety clack! The plane rolled through the clouds as the daring duo completed the first leg of the trip. A little leak tested James's "signing" theory and soon they were off again. The open cockpits were hot and soon they were soaring over the mountains dressed only in muscle tees and drawers. Nothing would stop them. "Hallelujah," Thomas would yell. "Hallelujah right back at you!" was the reply. Yet there was something named "prejudice" that might put a halt to their trip. Would anything, including that, be able to stop the Hallelujah Flight?

This once lost, but now found story about James and Thomas's Hallelujah Flight will thrill the reader.
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