Review of the Day: Black and White Airmen (Part Two)
Abundant photographs pepper the pages of this book, keeping the eye moving without ever distracting. Fleischman has eschewed the use of pullout boxes or entire pages dedicated to a related topic that pull away from the narrative. This is a smart choice on his part. And while I rarely see authors of non-fiction children’s titles justify their lack of source notes, Fleischman is careful to point out that, "I leave source notes to scholars who write about History." Aside from the first-person interviews Fleischman conducted to get much of his information, there is also a nice list of Resources for kids under topics like "For the Tuskegees", "For the air war in general", "For the air war at the movies", etc. An Index is included in the back.
One of the very first things Fleischman says of this true story is, "We have all sorts of `true’ stories today that aren’t entirely true… True books like this one are usually called `nonfiction,’ which is a funny word. All it guarantees is that this book is `not fiction,’ that is, that I didn’t make it up entirely. Imagine if food were labeled that way; imagine that the ingredients listed on an ice cream wrapper said only `Not stones.’". Be that as it may be, I’ll take Fleischman’s "not stones" over that of his contemporaries any day of the week. Black and White Airmen mixes different kinds of history topics alongside personal recollections with flair. The result is a book I’ll be handing to any kid doing a WWII assignment or just wanting to know more about some of the great men who served so long ago.
Notes on the Cover: It’s kind of a pity, but I like the images found underneath the cover a little more than the cover itself. Take off the cover sometime and lay the book flat before you. On the left cover you see Herb’s flight squad and the words Black and White Airmen above them. Look on the right and you see Their True Story above John’s airmen. John’s picture gives a person chills too when you notice the black dots drawn above and below the men who wouldn’t survive their missions. The book jacket has the advantage of showing our heroes then (on the front) and now (on the back) and it’s not bad. I just feel a little sorry that such a cool image of their crews has to be hidden (particularly when you know how library systems will clue the covers to the books).
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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