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***Talkin' About Bessie

The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman

by Nikki Grimes

Illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Reviewed June 17, 2003.
Orchard Books (Scholastic), New York, 2002.  48 pages.
Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, 2003.  A Coretta Scott King Honor Book for illustration.
Available at Sembach Library (JB COL).

Writing biographies in the form of poetry seems to be a new trend, and it’s a good one.  Instead of just presenting a list of facts about Bessie Coleman’s life, Nikki Grimes writes a series of poems, told from the perspective of people who knew Bessie Coleman, from her birth to her triumphant career as an aviatrix.

The story is inspiring.  Bessie Coleman was born into poverty and worked hard as a young girl.  She determined to make something of herself and moved to Chicago.  Eventually, she heard that women in France were flying planes.  So she spent a year learning French and then went to France to become an aviatrix herself.  She was the first black woman to be a qualified pilot, and she proved that anyone, including a black woman, could do something big.  This is a lovely book and uplifting reading.

Reader comment:  A reader gives this Four Stars and says, "It is really interesting."

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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