It’s healthy for kids to have role models from around the world and throughout history. Here’s someone to look up to: aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. Or, if you rather, Amelia Harehart. Silver Dolphin’s new series Wild Bios are board books for pre-readers that re-imagine important people as cute and cuddly creatures. Our sister imprint, Portable Press, also has a new series called Show Me History! that introduces youngsters to historical figures in a fun graphic novel format! Here are some facts about one of the subjects of these series, Amelia Earhart.
Amelia Earhart wasn’t exactly a precocious pilot or a born lover of planes. As she wrote in a diary entry, the first time she saw a plane was as an 11-year-old attending the Iowa State Fair in 1908, which had a flying contraption on display. She called it “a thing of rusty wire and wood” and obviously didn’t care too much about it.
Help is On the Way
During a holiday break from college in 1917, she went to visit her sister, Muriel, studying in Toronto. That’s where Earhart first noticed the mass loss of life and injuries suffered by World War I soldiers, and so she dropped out of school and became a nurse’s aide at a Red Cross military hospital in Toronto. (She had to take a two-month break when she contracted sinusitis and severe pneumonia.)
In Toronto, Earhart and the other nurses spent their free time hanging around airplane hangars (because that’s where young male pilots tended to congregate). That’s when she first took an interest in planes, which truly sparked when she attended a Long Beach, California, air show in 1920 with her father. A pilot named Frank Hawks took Earhart on a 10-minute flight, and she was hooked.
Earhart worked odd jobs and saved up $1,000 for flying lessons, and her teacher was another early female aviator named Neta Snook, the first woman to run an airfield and her own aviation company.
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane
Just six months after her first flying lesson in 1921, Earhart was able to buy her first airplane, a tiny yellow biplane she named The Canary.
Flying Into History
Earhart set a number of aviation records in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1928, she became the first woman to fly in an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean (as a passenger), and in 1932 flew a plane, solo, across the same body of water. Then in 1935, she really outdid herself. She flew from Los Angeles to Mexico City, Mexico to New Jersey, and Honolulu to Oakland, all solo — the first person of any gender to do any of those things.
State Dinner in the Sky
In April 1933, shortly after President Franklin Roosevelt took office, a number of aviation industry luminaries were invited to the White House for dinner. Among the guests: Earhart and her husband, George Putnam. The president didn’t attend, and it must have been a stuffy affair, because during the dinner, Earhart suggested to her close friend, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, that they should take a joyride…by which she meant fly a plane from Washington, D.C.’s Hoover Field to an airport in Baltimore. And so Earhart, Roosevelt, and some of the other guests did, still in their evening finery, as Earhart took the controls of the small plane.
Clothing the Deal
By the early 1930s, Earhart was extremely famous, and, like a modern-day Kardashian or Victoria Beckham, she had her own department store clothing line. Amelia Earhart Fashions were available only at Macy’s and Marshall Field’s and were priced so that middle-class women could afford them. Most garments had little aviation-based details, like airplane prints or propeller-shaped buttons.
Where’d She Go?
She’s almost as famous for her disappearance as she is for her achievements. During a 1937 attempt to fly around the world with navigator Fred Noonan, Earhart and her plane disappeared and were never recovered. Numerous theories have been spread about what happened, such as the plane running out of gas and crashing into the sea, and capture and execution by Japan. A $4 million air and sea hunt (the most expensive in history to that point, funded by the U.S. government) didn’t turn up much.
Nope, Not Her
In 1970, writer Joe Klaas wrote a book called Amelia Earhart Lives, claiming that Earhart had faked her death, moved to New York, and assumed the name Irene Bolam. That woman, who had a well-documented life, sued the book’s publisher and demanded the book pulled from stores. (She reached a settlement and the book was withdrawn.)
Meet one of history’s greatest figures in this adorable board book with an animalistic twist! Dive into the life of the brave pilot Amelia Harehart, and the glass ceilings she flew through. Breaking records and always setting new goals to achieve, Amelia Harehart was an inspiration. With hilarious puns and colorful illustrations, this clever board book brings her legacy to life for babies and parents alike!
When Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, she immediately became an American icon and a subject of endless fascination for generations to come. In Amelia Earhart: Pioneer of the Sky!, the story of the bold and daring aviator’s life is presented in graphic novel format, with full-color illustrations and historically accurate details. From her hardscrabble childhood to her final flight—and mysterious disappearance—Earhart’s journey will entertain, captivate, and inspire readers of all ages.
Amelia Earhart photo credit: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937), waving, seated outside cockpit on top of an Autogiro, in Los Angeles, shortly after she became the first woman to complete a solo coast-to-coast flight. August 1932.