Synopses & Reviews
A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of
Code Name Verity
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musiciannot an easy thing if youre a girl, and harder still if youre Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, its a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.
"Smith (Lucy the Giant) brings a gripping perspective to bear upon a lesser-known piece of America's past: during WWII, the government recruited women pilots to fly non-combat missions, e.g., ferrying planes. Driven by a desire to fly and wanting to help her enlisted brother, Ida Mae decides to pass as white so she can join the program. The author has an expert grasp on her subject, and readers will learn plenty about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, from their impractical uniforms to the dangerous missions they flew without reward. Ida Mae's unique point of view gives her special insight into the often poor treatment of women: when a pilot friend gets frustrated by a stunt they are asked to perform, Ida realizes, 'Lily's just finding out what I've been living with my whole life. She's never known what it was like to be hobbled by somebody else's rules.' Key scenes demonstrate how much Ida has sacrificed by passing, as when her much darker mother visits her on Christmas and, la Imitation of Life, poses as the family housekeeper. Although this book feels constructed to educate, readers will find the lesson well crafted. Ages 12 up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
-A dynamic, heartfelt novel.+ -The Washington Post
-A thrilling, but little-known story that begs to be told. The book is at once informative and entertaining.+ -School Library Journal
Read Sherri L. Smith's posts on the Penguin Blog
Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.
When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.
When America enters World War II, the Army creates the Women's Air Force Service Pilots. Ida Mae Jones, a young African-American woman, suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something to help her brother stationed in the Pacific.
All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when sheÕs in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASPÑWomen Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if sheÕs willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying oneÕs self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately itÕs not what you do but who you are thatÕs most important.
Read Sherri L. Smith's posts on the Penguin Blog
About the Author
Sherri L. Smith was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent most of her childhood reading books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked in movies, animation, comic books and construction. Sherri’s first book, Lucy the Giant, was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 2003. The Dutch translation, Lucy XXL (Gottmer, 2005), was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2005 De Gouden Zoen, or Golden Kiss, Awards for Children’s Literature in the Netherlands. Sherri’s novel, Sparrow, was chosen as a National Council for the Social Studies/Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and is also a 2009 Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Nominee. Upon the release of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet in February 2008, Sherri was featured as a spotlight author for The Brown Bookshelf's Black History Month celebration, 28 Days Later. Flygirl, an historical YA novel set during World War II, is her fourth novel.
“Cloudberries,” Ladybug Magazine (2001)
Lucy the Giant (2002)
Various stories, Bart Simpson Comics (2002)
Hot Sour, Salty, Sweet (2008)
Flygirl (January 2009)