LANG, Heather. Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine. illus. by Raúl Colón. 40p. bibliog. notes. photos. websites. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781620916506.
Gr 1-3 –A decade before Amelia Earhart entered the public’s consciousness, Ruth Law (1887–1970) was performing stunts at aerial shows. By 1916, she “longed to fly to get somewhere…somewhere far away.” Emphasizing Law’s competitive and risk-taking nature, Lang builds suspense with comparisons and questions. Victor Carlstrom had recently set the record for the longest nonstop American flight (Chicago to Erie, PA) in a much larger machine than Law’s Curtiss biplane. Would the young aviator have enough fuel capacity to accomplish her goal: flying from Chicago to New York City? Children will be awestruck at the image of the vulnerable pilot, with no cockpit protection from the wind and low temperatures, steering with her hands and feet, and navigating with a compass and a map box strapped to her legs. Law set a record in the face of so many unknowns—though she was forced to stop in Binghamton, NY, before making it to New York City. Quotes, distinguished by a colorful, cursive font and cited in source notes, add vitality and inspiration. Back matter includes photographs and further biographical details. Colón’s harmonious palette is comprised, appropriately, of blues, yellows, and greens; his signature etched lines provide additional energy. He maintains interest by shifting perspectives and changing the color of the light. VERDICT A worthy successor to Don Brown’s out of print Ruth Law Thrills a Nation (HMH, 1993), this title underscores the pilot’s achievement and conveys her exhilaration.
This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2016 issue.