Review of The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee
by Julie Leung; illus. by Julie Kwon
Primary, Intermediate    Little, Brown    48 pp.    g
2/21    978-0-7595-5495-5    $18.99

As a child, Hazel Ying Lee (1912–1944) pushed limits to be the best at everything — the fastest at footraces, the hardest hitter in handball, and, she hoped, one day the first Chinese American woman pilot. The sky called to her, and during her first airplane trips, she let the gender and racial discrimination she experienced on the ground fall away. The text chronicles her flying career: working as an elevator operator to pay for lessons; earning her license in less than a year; when WWII began, joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) program, testing planes before they went to military pilots. A tragic crash ended Lee’s career (and life) at a young age, though her legacy lives on. Leung’s poetic text vividly conveys Lee’s fascination with and passion for flying and breaking boundaries without fear, as well as her perseverance and optimism for a better world. Kwon’s clear, earth-toned, full-bleed illustrations expand on the story, illuminating Lee’s unique experiences and capturing her adventurous spirit. Striking perspectives offer bird’s-eye views of the patchwork landscapes over which Lee flew. Back matter includes an extensive author’s note as well as additional multimedia resources. An excellent portrayal of a fearless flyer.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

J. Elizabeth Mills

J. Elizabeth Mills is a PhD candidate and Project VOICE Research Assistant at the University of Washington Information School. She has written books for children, including The Spooky Wheels on the Bus, with Scholastic, Inc. She has been a researcher on the award-winning Project VIEWS2 study, Project LOCAL, and on a study investigating technology use in libraries with young children and their caregivers. She is co-author of Supercharged Storytimes: An Early Literacy Planning and Assessment Guide and co-editor of Create, Innovate, and Serve: A Radical Approach to Children’s and Youth Programming, with ALA Editions-Neal Schuman.

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