Amelia Earhart: this broad ocean, written by Sarah Stewart Taylor and James Sturm, illustrated by Ben Towle
Hyperion Books, 2010

Amelia Earhart departed on her historic 1928 voyage across the Atlantic from the small Newfoundland port town of Trepassey. After several days of false starts due to weather and other complications, Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. This graphic novel tells Earhart's story - and her influence - through the eyes of Grace, a curious young girl of Trepassey.

The framing of this story works very well: Grace is intent on being a reporter (even among the real newspaper reporters sent to Trepassey from around North America) which reflects Amelia Earhart's determination to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, and I found myself wanting to see them both succeed. In fact, I was hoping that Grace and Earhart shared a second characteristic and that they were both real historical figures. Alas, there is no indication in the supporting information that Grace was a real person.

This broad ocean has a distinctive visual style with the use of only black, white, and a light turquoise colour in the illustrations. The drawings are simple in both their lack of colours and the lines used, but movement is well indicated. I am not sure if it was intentional, but Grace and Earhart bear a  striking physical resemblance to one another with freckles and short, fly-away hair (truly, they have the same haircut except that Grace's is a touch longer), which undoubtedly contributed to my impression that Grace is the reflection of a young Earhart.

Despite some fictionalization in this graphic novel, there is quite a bit of supplementary information to the main text of the book for those who are curious to know more. Over four pages of discussion about individual illustrated panels found in the book are at the back, as well as a bibliography and selected reading list. The introduction by Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot a space shuttle, is a personal testament to Earhart's impact in her own life and achievements.

Ultimately, this is a great introduction to Amelia Earhart's life and influence in a format that is popular with young students.


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