Monday, November 15, 2010

The Hallelujah Flight

The Hallelujah Flight. Phil Bidner. Illustrated by John Holyfield. 2010. Penguin. 32 pages. 

The day I first met James Banning, he said, "Mr. Allen, my dream is to fly a plane from sea to shining sea, and this here 0XX6 Eagle Rock is our plane. But first I'll need you to overhaul the engine." 
I just about coughed up my coffee. "Replace the entire engine? How will we pay for that?" Times were hard, and most folks didn't have a nickel to spare.
"I've got an idea," Banning replied. "Whenever people give us food, fuel and supplies along the way, they can write their names on the tip of the wing.They'll fly into the history books right along with us!"
"That might just work," I declared.

Though The Hallelujah Flight is a work of fiction--historical fiction--it is based on a true story. It is based on the story of the first African American pilot to complete a transcontinental flight of the U.S. (Also, the first black aviator to obtain a license from the United States Department of Commerce.) The year is 1932, and the story is told from the point of view of his copilot-mechanic, Thomas Allen.

I liked this one. I really liked it. The author mentions how he was shocked that this story hasn't been told before--that it's not widely known--at least not as known as it should be. And I agree. I think more stories like this need to be written, brought to light.

I loved the illustrations. I just LOVED them. I think they are wonderful!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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