Review of The Flying Girl: How Aída de Acosta Learned to Soar

The Flying Girl: How Aída de Acosta Learned to Soar
by Margarita Engle; 

illus. by Sara Palacios
Primary    Atheneum    40 pp.
3/18    978-1-4814-4502-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-4503-0    $10.99

In this slightly fictionalized account (with brief invented dialogue) Engle and Palacios introduce readers to Aída de Acosta (1884–1962), who defied the sexist attitudes of her era to learn to pilot dirigibles. Lilting, intermittently rhyming text shows teenage Aída’s curiosity, as she convinces the airship’s inventor to teach her to fly despite her mother’s protests. The book highlights the difficulties Aída faced, from smaller problems such as when her long dress made it hard to exit the airship to larger ones like the jeers from “angry strangers” after her groundbreaking flight. Mixed-media illustrations range from serviceable to whimsical and capture the giant scale of the dirigibles without sacrificing detail in scenes of people on the ground. A motif of red birds throughout reflects Aída’s buoyant spirit. A biographical note, including the information that Aída kept silent about her story for years afterward in deference to her father, is appended. This story based on the life of a Latina air-and-space pioneer is a welcome addition to the growing list of picture-book biographies of women who defied expectations.

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference.
Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs is an assistant professor of English Education at Boston University. She is a former high school teacher, literacy coach, and reading specialist, and she studied adolescent literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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