Cover image for Flying solo : how Ruth Elder soared into America's heart
Flying solo : how Ruth Elder soared into America's heart
Cummins, Julie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2013.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 cm
How Ruth Elder, film actress, pilot and activist, attempted to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
Reading Level:
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.2 0.5 162961.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TL540.E55 C86 2013 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



In 1927, airplanes were a thrilling but dangerous novelty. Most people, men and women, believed that a woman belonged in the kitchen and not in a cockpit. One woman, Ruth Elder, set out to prove them wrong by flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Ruth didn't make it, crashing spectacularly, but she flew right into the spotlight and America's heart. This is the story of a remarkable woman who chased her dreams with grit and determination, and whose appetite for adventure helped pave the way for future generations of female flyers.

Author Notes

Julie Cummins has loved books all her life. That passion led to a career as a children's librarian and the position of coordinator of children's services at the New York Public Library. Her previous books Tomboy of the Air, Women Daredevils, and Women Explorers all bring to life women who challenged tradition and risked their lives to follow their dreams.

Malene R. Laugesen has also illustrated Mama Went to Jail for the Vote by Kathleen Karr , The Blessing Box by Karen Hill, and The Princess Gown by Linda Leopold Strauss. She lives in New Zealand.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ruth Elder, a contemporary of Amelia Earhart, set her sights on becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. At age 23, and after only a few flying lessons, she and her copilot set forth. Two-thirds of the way into their flight, the gas line sprung a leak, and they were forced to abandon the plane. Fortunately, they were rescued by a nearby ship. In 1929, she and 19 other women (including Earhart) flew solo across the country to prove women can pilot as well as men and, in this depiction, do it with a few enjoyable comic interludes, too. After landing safely in Cleveland, the ever-optimistic Elder expresses her belief that women would one day become fighter pilots. Laugesen's idyllic paintings capture Elder's beauty and personality while complementing the text. Pair with Daredevil, by Meghan McCarthy, reviewed on this page.--Petty, J. B. Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

While Amelia Earhart is a household name, Ruth Elder (1902-1977) is not. Cummins, who wrote about trailblazing women in books like Women Daredevils and Women Explorers, stitches together anecdotes about this female aviator, whose (unsuccessful) attempt to cross the Atlantic predated that of Earhart. Throughout, Cummins makes clear the kind of dismissive attitudes female pilots faced. "Most people, men and women, believed that a woman belonged in the kitchen and not a cockpit," she writes. And in 1929, when 20 pilots including Elder took part in an all-women air race, a reporter grouses, "The only thing worse than dames in planes is dames racing planes." While Laugesen's smudgy illustrations don't generate much of a sense of action, Elder and her fellow pioneers come across as plenty heroic. Additional facts and resources wrap up this quick overview of Elder's life. Ages 6-9. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Move over, Amelia.readers are about to meet Ruth Elder, Earhart's contemporary and fellow aviatrix. Inspired by Charles Lindbergh's solo Atlantic flight, Elder was determined to be the first woman to accomplish the same feat. "In 1927..Most people.believed that a woman belonged in the kitchen and not in a cockpit!" Undaunted, the stylish beauty queen and silent-movie actress was also a daredevil. Though a ruptured oil line left her and her copilot in the ocean, her plane in flames, "she never lost her courage or her lipstick." A few years later, she and 19 other women flyers, including Earhart, raced from Santa Monica to Cleveland, ".using only roadmaps and their own two eyes to find their way." While she lost her maps to heavy winds, and a forced landing caused a run-in with some cattle and a farmer's wife, she still managed to finish fifth. The clever, anecdotal text and vibrant spreads of the colorful planes and period costumes transport readers to another era, glamorous, yet restrictive toward the "fairer sex." Elder predicted that one day women would be fighter pilots.and she was right. An author's note and comprehensive source list are appended. Pair this offering with Marissa Moss's Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee (Tricycle, 2009) for a soaring look at women's history.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.