Thursday, February 18, 2010
I'll Fly My Own Plane
I'll Fly My Own Plane is the third book in the "Joe Joe in the City" series by Jean Alicia Elster. This installment of Black History takes Joe Joe to the skies, as his friend and librarian, Mrs. Morgan, gives him a book about the Tuskegee Airmen. They were a group of African-American pilots who flew with the US Air Force during WWII.
Joe Joe's struggle in this book is that he loves airplanes, which is why he was given this book to read. He would love to have his own model airplane, but he can't yet afford one. Working for Mr. Booth in the store doesn't pay a lot of money. His friend Tyrone keeps bugging him to go work for Cecil, because he could make a lot of money. But Joe Joe knows that Cecil does something shady, and his parents have told him to stay away.
He tries to focus on the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Bessie Coleman had to travel all the way to France to learn how to fly, but because the first black woman in the world to earn a pilot's license. Eugene Bullard was also forced to go to France. By joining the French Air Force, he became the first African American to become a military pilot.
In 1941, the first black American soldiers were finally allowed to train to become military pilots. They trained in Tuskegee, Alabama, to become the 99th Squadron, a segregated unit, and received the nickname "Tuskegee Airmen". Each of these men had earned college degrees. They were treated poorly by the Air Force. But the airmen kept their heads held high, and continued to work hard, to prove that they could. Their perseverance paid off to open doors to future aviators.
As Joe Joe is reading this, he can hear Tyrone playing with his airplane, and he feels the pull to try to work for Cecil to earn money faster. At the same time, he is working extra hard for Mr. Booth, and keeps hearing the echoes of his parents and grandmother in his head.
This book is yet again another great resource for Black history, and for life lessons to children. It demonstrates the inner struggles felt by children living in the city, torn between doing the right thing and fitting in. It also provides good role models to these children, which unfortunately many are lacking. This book, and the others in the series, should be shared with children of elementary age. The lessons contained within are important, both historically and social-emotionally.
Purchase I'll Fly My Own Plane (Joe Joe in the City, 3)
Disclaimer: While I did receive a copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions contained within this post are completely honest.