Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a charming story, and boasts drawings by Brian Selznick. The book is about the friendship between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the celebrated aviator Amelia Earhart, also conveying some of the ways in which both women were daring pioneers for their time.
At a dinner at the White House, Earhart offered to take the First Lady for a ride, and, in spite of opposition from the Secret Service, they set off to Baltimore. They were back at the White House in time for dessert – Eleanor Roosevelt’s angel food cake, the recipe for which is included at the end of the book. An Author’s Note at the end of the book provides the historical background for the largely unknown flight of the two women on April 20, 1933.
Evaluation: In addition to telling a great story, the illustrations by Selznick add immeasurably to the tale. Selznick did extensive research for the book; we learn that even the wallpaper and china patterns on the plates used at the dinner at the White House are authentic. Selznick, of course, is the award-winning author/illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Every book he illustrates is magical.
Published by Scholastic Press, 1999
Eleanor: Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport follows the pattern Rappaport has used in her other biographies for children: her own biographical passages about the subject are punctuated with actual quotes by the biographee.
Rappaport’s book describes Eleanor’s unhappy childhood (her mother thought Eleanor was “ugly and too serious”), the death of both parents before she was ten, and how Eleanor then grew up in the loveless house of her grandmother.
When Eleanor was 15, she was sent away to boarding school, and was fortunate to have a teacher who believed in her and encouraged her. When Eleanor came home at 18, she was a different person, and one who had developed compassion for those with less than she had.
A distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, proposed to her, and she became a politician’s wife, and then a behind-the-scenes politician herself. She continued to crusade for poor and minorities even after her husband died, meeting with world leaders and advocating for human rights.
End notes add a list of important dates in ER’s life, selected research sources, and suggested further reading.
The muted pastel illustrations by Gary Kelley are adeptly done.
Evaluation: Generally in her biographies Rappaport emphasizes the positive and elides the negative, but she does a more balanced job here (and in truth, there isn’t much negative to say about Eleanor Roosevelt).
Published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2009