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BLAST Elementary
Soar, Elinor!

Soar, Elinor!
Written by Tami Lewis Brown

Pictures by François Roca

Plucky Elinor Smith was six years old when she first went for a ride in a rickety "flying machine." At ten, she was taking flying lessons with blocks strapped to the rudder bar so her feet could reach it! By the time she was seventeen, she had become the youngest licensed pilot in the United States, male or female, and earned the respect of famous pilots like Charles Lindbergh.

Elinor dreamed of making her living as a professional pilot, but not everyone thought that girls should fly. When male pilots and newspapermen mocked her, Elinor decided to perform an aerial maneuver they thought was impossible. It would take training and preparation. But this aviation pioneer was determined to show that with talent, hard work, and plenty of grit, a girl could climb to any height.


Open-Ended Questions

These questions can be used during an interactive read aloud to engage student interest.

  • Have you ever been on an airplane? How is this airplane different? (page 4)
  • What did the old pilot mean when he said, "She has the touch?" (page 6)
  • Why does Elinor go to the airfield every day before school? (page 8)
  • Why are some people upset about Elinor wanting to be a pilot? (page 15)
  • Why was flying under bridges illegal? Why is Elinor still planning on doing it? (page 19)
  • How is Elinor Smith like Jackie Robinson? (page 35)

Vocabulary Words

  • Deter
  • Solo


I Love to Fly and So Does Elinor Smith

In the author's note, Tami Lewis Brown quotes Elinor as saying, "For me there was only one path: I knew from age six that I wanted to fly. Flying was the very breath of life to me and I was successful because I loved it so much." What do your students love to do? It could be anything; playing a sport, dancing, drawing comics, collecting things... whatever they feel passionate about. Encourage your students to research a person who is famous for doing their favorite thing. Who are they? Where did they grow up? How did they become so good? What were some struggles they faced?

Your students can share their passion with the rest of the class by creating a poster. The heading of the poster can read, "I love to ... and so does ..." Half of the poster should describe what they love to do, give background information and can include pictures or examples of their own work. The other half can feature the person they researched. When all the posters are finished, your room will be full of your students' favorite things and role models who strived to do what they love!


Journal Question

  • Elinor dreamed of being a pilot and worked hard to become one. What do you dream of doing?

Extending Books

Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee
Written by Marissa Moss

Illustrated by Carl Angel

Presents the life and career of the Chinese American woman who dreamed of flying as a child and who went on to become one of only two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) to serve during World War II.


Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic
Written by Robert Burleigh

Paintings by Wendell Minor

An account of Amelia Earhart's dangerous 1932 flight across the atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland to Ireland, in which she survived bad weather and a malfunctioning airplane.

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
Written by Candace Fleming

Tells the story of Amelia Earhart's life - as a child, a woman, and a pilot - and describes the search for her missing plane.