Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Biographies

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more nonfiction. My plan is to read at least 100 nonfiction picture books this year. So far, I've read 73 this year.

Today, I'm highlighting two picture book biographies of women. In both cases, WWII had a huge impact on their lives. Because of the war, women had job opportunities that were usually only open to men. These two women stepped forward and went after their dream jobs in spite of other people's ideas about what was appropriate for women.
illustrated by Carl Angel

Goodreads summary: When I was little, something special happened every Sunday. Other families went to baseball games or the movies, but not mine . . . We went to watch the airplanes. . . . 

Maggie dreamed of flying--just like her favorite pilot, Amelia Earhart. She told her brothers and sisters stories of flying across oceans and deserts, and all around the world. But in the 1920s and 1930s, few girls took to the sky.

Then, when Maggie grew up, her whole world changed overnight: the United States entered World War II, and everyone in her family was affected. Maggie knew that this was the time to support her country--and it was her chance to fly. Young Maggie Gee became one of only two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots to serve in WWII.

Based on the true adventures of a girl not bound by gravity, Marissa Moss's stirring story and Carl Angel's brilliant illustrations depict what determination, bravery, and boundless possibilities look like when dreams are allowed to soar sky high

My thoughts: When I was a young girl, I also wanted to fly and when I was older, I took my children to the local naval air station to watch planes take off and land on Saturday mornings. There were many ways that I connected with this book. Maggie Gee was a determined young woman and I love that we can get to know about her life. I hadn't heard of her before this. She wasn't only breaking a gender barrier though, she was Chinese American and there was only one other Chinese American pilot as part of the American Women Airforce Services.

Miss Mary Reporting by Sue Macy
illustrated by C.F. Payne

Goodreads summary: While sitting in the bleachers of a Soap Box Derby in the 1950s, Mary Garber overheard two African-American boys in the following exchange: “See that lady down there?” asked one boy. “That’s Mary Garber. She doesn’t care who you are, but if you do something good, she’ll write about you.”

Mary Garber was a pioneering sports journalist in a time where women were rarely a part of the newspaper business. Women weren’t even allowed to sit in the press boxes at sporting events, so Mary was forced to sit with the coaches’ wives. But that didn’t stop her.

In a time when African-American sports were not routinely covered, Mary went to the games and wrote about them. Garber was a sportswriter for fifty-six years and was the first woman to receive the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award, presented for major contributions in sports journalism. And now, every year the Association of Women in Sports Media presents the Mary Garber Pioneer Award in her honor to a role model for women in sports media.

Sure to inspire future journalists, athletes, and any child who has a dream, this illustrated biography of Mary Garber captures her feisty and determined spirit and brings her story to life

My thoughts: I loved this look into the life of Mary Garber. She is an awesome role model. I appreciated learning about her respect for others and herself. She seems to have been someone who treated others with dignity and worked to have a positive impact on others in addition to doing a great job.


  1. I loved Miss Mary Reporting, quite a story, isn't it? Thanks too for the story "Sky High" about Maggie Gee, and like you, Crystal, another story I've never heard. Love these picture books!

  2. There are so few picture book biographies of Asian Americans. How great to have one about an Asian American woman flyer!