Review: Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith

by BookWatch, guest reviewer

Title: Fly Girl
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 256
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-9

Summary: Fly Girl is about an African American girl, Ida Mae during World War II who wants to be a pilot and also help the war effort.  Her father had already taught her how to fly his crop dusting plane.  When she learns about the WASP (Women Airforce Service Program) she decides to join even though they will not accept applicants from her race.  She is light skinned and passes as a white girl, which means she has to deny her family identity in order to follow her dreams and serve her country. The biggest enemy she confronts is prejudice.

Why I started this book:

My favorite books are the Newberry Award winners.  I have a goal of reading all of them and I have quite a few to go.  I read Fly Girl by Sherri L Smith about a year ago. (I don’t think this is a Newberry winner.)


  • The struggles that she faces and the ultimate questions she must come to terms with make it a very moving book.
  • You also learn about the dangerous flights these female pilots flew during the war without receiving any recognition from the government or status as veterans.  That has only recently been remedied by congress for the few surviving pilots from this program.

Buy: Flygirl

Rating: I give it 5 treasure chests.

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Review: A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer

by Bookwatch, guest reviewer

Title: A Girl Named Disaster
Author: Nancy Farmer
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 320 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: This is a story about an African girl whose mother was killed by a leopard, whose father had gone away, and who soon will be married to a cruel man who already has three wives. She is only 11 years old, but she posses an intelligence, curiosity, and intuition far beyond her years. She is protected by her grandmother who encourages her to escape from Mozambique to Zimbabwe, a journey alone on a river in a stolen boat that should take her only 2 days. She instead gets turned around and it takes her many months to reach her destination. Along the way she has to overcome incredible dangers and learn to survive alone.

Why I Started this book:

As you know I am a big fan of Newberry Honor books. I would like to recommend another Newberry Honor book for your Young Adult Fiction list.  It is called A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer. It was published in 1996 by Puffin Books.


  • All along her journey she learns and communicates with the mystical spirits who guide and encourage her. I felt like these were symbols of her own courage, confidence, and intuition.
  • As she journeys, she finds her value, home, and freedom.
  • This book attributes her survival and triumph to spirit forces. I felt that her suvival was the result of her own intuition and the love of her grandmother, who, even though she wasn’t with her, had given her a sense of who she was as a person, who her mother was, and why she was valued and should value herself.
  • Her own intelligence, imagination, and curiousity were sources of courage and strength, always with her, always taking her to the next step she should take.

Last Minute Thoughts: I give A Girl Named Disaster your highest ranking.

Buy: A Girl Named Disaster

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

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