Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh, paintings by Wendell Minor (Simon & Schuster, 2011)
Robert Burleigh uses poetic language to detail Amelia Earhart’s 1932 flight across the ocean, the first time a woman made this over-2000-mile trip solo. Readers will be engaged by the details of the weather and single-engine airplane as well as the inner journey: there’s excitement, fear, fatigue, nostalgia, and always courage. Burleigh makes use of metaphors and present-tense free verse couplets to bring out feelings with well-chosen words. Here’s an example:
“1:00 a.m. The friendly night becomes a graph of fear:
a jagged line between where-I-am and not-quite-sure.”
Wendell Minor shows the red Vega with rounded contours from many perspectives. The way he gives close-ups into the cockpit then switches to long views adds excitement. I love the contrast between the double page spread when Amelia Earhart leaves a wide bleak runway in Newfoundland, and the one where cows cavort across green fields when Earhart safely lands in Ireland, and “the world returns to her deafened ears.” Endpaper aficionados will enjoy the Lockheed Vega drawn in front of a map of the journey.
Robert Burleigh offers an overview of Earhart’s career in the afterword, and Wendell Minor gives us a look into his meticulous research. We also get a bibliography and quotes from Earhart on aviation, women’s rights, and determination.