Ryan, P.M. (1999). Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride. New York: Scholastic, Inc.
This book tells the story of the First Lady of the United States of America, and her best friend Amelia Earhart. The two unexpected buddies do something even more unexpected and go for a midnight ride over the capitol together, against the wishes of the secret service and discover how beautiful the city is at night. The story tells first and foremost, the story of friendship and companionship but also tests the limits of what women can and can’t do. At the time that Eleanor and Amelia were living, it was not normal for women to do what they wanted to show they could or for the fun of it but these two ladies prove them wrong.
This is a great story of friendship featuring powerful women! It is a wonderful read with beautiful illustrations by Brian Selznik. The pencil illustrations really allow for detail and analysis of each picture to discover all the details that are contained. The book introduces readers to the concept that famous people may have known other famous and important people (something I did not realize was that Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart were friends) as well as introducing multiple historical figures for them to be connected to more emotionally than just reading about them in a text book. The book shows how Amelia flies Eleanor around and then ends with Eleanor driving Amelia around to show that women can do anything and even do things just for the fun of it.
Yes, Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt did sneak off for an airplane ride after dinner at the White House. But, no, Earhart did not pilot the plane, as she does in this picture book for older children. Ryan makes clear in her long author’s note at the book’s conclusion that she has changed that fact to make the story more “exciting.” It’s true, the story does work better without the two Eastern Air Transport pilots flying the plane per regulations (though Amelia and Eleanor both took turns at the controls). Still, the central event of this “based on true story” piece of fiction didn’t happen, and kids probably won’t read the author’s note to clarify the text. Too bad about the confusion, because this book has so much going for it–an engaging text and simply wonderful pencil illustrations that not only capture the black-and-white visual sensibility of the 1930s but also feature inventive show-offy scenes–the White House surrounded by masses of cherry blossoms, an aerial view of the Capitol at night, and the captivating dust-jacket illustration of Eleanor and Amelia that will immediately draw readers to the book. Both Ryan and Selznick clearly did their research, and one of the book’s chief attributes is its depiction, in both words and pictures, of two strong women–really pioneers. Despite the change in the incident, children will get a sense of the importance of Earhart and Roosevelt to America’s history in general, and women’s history in particular.
Cooper, I. (1999). [Review of Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride]. Booklists. Retrieved from: http://booklistonline.com/Amelia-and-Eleanor-Go-for-a-Ride-Based-on-a-True-Story-Pam-Munoz-Ryan/pid=578571
I think a program pairing famous people would be really fun! What would two historical figures do together if they had the night to do whatever they wanted? Using historical information, participants could construct a story line based on history and create their own historical fiction. A plus would be to eat the wonderful recipe listed at the end of this book while doing it!