From the Publisher:
This book is inspired by the story of Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to hold a pilot’s license in the world. When Bessie was growing up, no one could have imagined that a girl from a humble family would get out of the cotton fields and become a pilot! But with the help of her best friend Bloony, Bessie used her courage and determination to make her dream come true!
This is the very first fairy tale of the Queen Girls Collection – A collection of stories real women turned into fairy tales. Our mission is to inspire young girls to follow their dreams and envision them as possible!
One for One| Book for Book – Every time you purchase a book, another will be donated to local and international organizations that are empowering girls and fighting illiteracy.
I was incredibly excited when I heard about the potential of this series – “true” fairy tales that promote the lives of some incredible women who were daring, tenacious, and refused to give up on their dreams. I was hoping for strong role models for my daughters, and was NOT disappointed with this first book. I love it! The folksy illustrations are engaging and help tell the story along side the carefully chosen, sparse text.
This true story is lifted into the fairy tale realm with “Bloony”, Bessie’s talking bird friend, recurring mocking mosquitoes, and alternatively-named cities/places such as “Cottonland” (a reference to Southern USA cotton fields, “Spark City” (a loose reference to a large city like New York, and The City of Light (Paris). The strong message to persevere and follow your dreams is clearly delivered. The fact that Bessie encounters several road blocks (discouragement from friends, having to leave the safety of her family to pursue her dream, having to work hard to save money, having to learn a new language, being discriminated against because she is female, etc.) serve to show that things worth pursuing don’t often come easy and hard work is what most often leads to success. I am very excited to see the next instalments in this important series about tenacious women from all walks of life.
A small criticism: the chosen font, while beautiful, is quite narrowly spaced and may be difficult for new readers to easily decipher, making it a better read-aloud for the youngest of readers.
My newly four-year-old daughter absolutely LOVES this book! She has asked me to read it on numerous occasions. We have had a lot of fun talking about what her dreams are and how she can be brave and dedicated in her journey towards achieving them, just like Bessie. It is a great jumping off point to discuss character traits like tenacity, courage, problem-solving, bravery, etc. It is all the more wonderful because it is a true story. We also had fun discussing what made it a fairy tale and what parts of the story fit the fairy tale structure (see below for ideas). I loved that Bessie is a non-white heroine, as did my daughter, who is mixed race. She compared her curly hair to Bessie’s right away. There is a quick bio blurb at the end of the story (last two pages) gives the vital statistics of Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman along with a picture. Great to have this extra info, but my daughter would have liked to know more – but it gave us a starting off point do do some quick research about her life.
For our focus on “children from hard places“, this book (and hopefully the upcoming ones) is a great example of someone overcoming challenges, working hard, and succeeding despite numerous tough circumstances. She did not let her gender, family status, language barrier, or colour of her skin hold her back.
- I LOVE the One for One| Book for Book feature- Every time you purchase a book, another will be donated to local and international organizations that are empowering girls and fighting illiteracy
- inspiring message for readers (especially girls) to follow their dreams
- protagonist is a real-life hero and is non-white
- gorgeous illustrations – quirky and folksy
- quick bio blurb at the end of the story gives the vital statistics of Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman along with a picture. Great to have this extra info!
- the font, though beautiful and quirky and well-suited to the story, may be difficult for early/emerging readers to decipher on their own
Why/How Use it with kids:
- discuss dreams and goals with your child – what are some of theirs? brainstorm ways to achieve them. Share what some of yours are/were. How have you done with achieving them? What are some habits of mind when dealing with obstacles and not giving up?
- discuss who some of your child’s or your heroes are. Why? What made/makes them special?
- discuss fairy tales – what are some of the key parts? (fantastical elements, strong lesson, often magic, journey, hardship, success, etc…)
- what were some of the fairy tale elements in this book?
- talking bird
- journey (train, new city, travel to Paris, etc.)
- hardship/struggle (dealing with nay-sayers and encountering sexism)
- success / strong message (don’t give up on your dreams)
- create a story (video, book, puppets, etc.) that turns one of your/child’s hero’s story into a fairy tale
- research more about Bessie’s and your hero/heronine’s life
About the Authors/Illustrator:
In their own words…
Andrea Doshi – I’m a dreamcatcher from Chicago. I’ve found my true passions through working as a Speech Pathologist and by exploring every possible corner of the earth. I am a cyclist, artist, photographer, and special needs advocate! I once rode my bicycle from Istanbul to London. By making my dreams a reality, I truly know what it’s like to feel my heart sing and I’m excited to share that feeling with girls and boys throughout the world!
Jimena Duran – I am a citizen of the world, born in Argentina and raised in Spain. Traveler. Yogi. Entrepreneur. Life Coach to be – Studying how to help others to move forward. Highly passionate about unlocking people’s potential. My son Luca sparked my interest to create positive content for children and inspired me to jump into this adventure!
Chiara Fabbri – Ciao! I’m Chiara, a young Italian illustrator. Art is my greatest passion, I believe it is the best means of expression. With an eclectic and creative mind, I see art in everything. A lot of my inspiration comes from photography. I’m an ecologist and an environmental protector. I have an unconditional love for children and traveling around the world-discovering cultures and traditions, and meeting people who inspire me to search for the true essence in every place and life on this planet.
(From the Queen Girls website)