The Daring Life of Betty Skelton
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
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A riveting picture book biography of Betty Skelton, aviation and auto racing pioneer, from award-winning author/illustrator Megan McCarthy.
In the 1930s most girls were happy playing with dolls. But one girl, Betty Skelton, liked playing with airplanes, watching them fly around outside, and even flying airplanes herself! She lived for an adventure—in the air, the water, and on land—and nothing could stop her, especially not being a girl.
When Betty Skelton was young there weren’t many women flying airplanes or racing cars, but she wouldn’t let that stop her. She was always ready to take on a challenge, and she loved to have fun. Beetty rode motorcycles, raced cars, jumped out of planes, and flew jets, helicoptors, gliders, and blimps. And by the time she was an adult, Betty was known in the press as the “First Lady of Firsts!”
This vibrantly illustrated picture book biography reveals the exciting life of a brave pioneer who followed her dreams and showed the world that women can do anything!
Meghan McCarthy is the award-winning author and illustrator of many books for children, including Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton; Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum; City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male; and Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at Meghan-McCarthy.com.
DAREDEVIL, * starred review
Ever hear of Betty Skelton? Most people haven’t, yet this woman was a whirling daredevil who liked to go fast and broke records in aviation and auto racing.
In the 1930s, most girls played with dolls, but not Betty: She was obsessed with airplanes, and at age 16, she soloed. She wanted to be a commercial pilot and fly in the Navy, but she was laughed at. So she became a stunt pilot with her dog, Little Tinker, by her side and no shoes on her feet. In 1951 she broke an altitude record. Then she traded planes for race cars and drove into a new career, breaking the women’s record at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a speed of 315.74 mph. those challenges weren’t enough for Betty, and she went on to driving a stunt boat. What was next? She trained to be an astronaut, but NASA wasn’t ready to send a female into space. Even so, Betty had “proven that women could do it as well as men.” The acrylic cartoon illustrations play up Betty’s spunk and derring-do with McCarthy’s trademark googly eyed expressions. Her achievements are stated in the straightforward narrative, but the author allows readers to tap into her personality through use of quotes: When Betty flew higher than Mount Everest, she said: “My feet darn near froze to death.”
McCarthy has spun an adventurous story about this little-known woman, highlighting her groundbreaking triumphs with respectful whimsy. (“Fun Facts,” additional quotes, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)