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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  3,503 ratings  ·  565 reviews
All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when sheos in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASPnWomen Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if sheos willing to u ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 2009 by Speak
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Hannah I think that's the point of the book. She looks white: "Just Little Miss Pretty Hair and Her Creamy White Skin." In the media, there's a light-skin…moreI think that's the point of the book. She looks white: "Just Little Miss Pretty Hair and Her Creamy White Skin." In the media, there's a light-skin bias, where black women are depicted as beautiful with lighter skin, and sometimes magazines will lighten a black woman's skin. Because Ida Mae is black but has lighter skin, I bet she has more privilege than a darker black woman. I haven't read the whole book, but I bet that this book calls out the bias against blacks with darker skin and shows light-skinned privilege (aka, a combination of white privilege and racism). I don't think it visually misrepresents the book's contents. I think it's calling out our society's bias.

This book kind of reminds me of Puddn'head Wilson by Mark Twain because the main female character has black ancestry but looks white, and people don't realize she's black until she starts talking. Then, they treat her differently because she has black cultural features. (less)
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The Library Lady
Don't read this because of the blurb on the back by Newbery/Printz teacher's pet Jacqueline Woodson.

Don't read it just because it's a window on a seldom told story of women in WWII. Don't read it just because of the theme of an African American woman trying to pass for white in the segregated world of the 1940s. Don't read it just because you're looking for another "girls can do anything they put their minds to it despite the odds" sort of read.

Read it because it's well written, well researched
So if you follow my reviews with any sort of regularity, you’ll already be aware that I’m on sort of a women-in-the-armed-forces-and-or-auxiliary-services-during-WWII kick right now, which is why I am reading yet another book in that genre, this one featuring a woman pilot who joins the WASP.

It’s… it’s a little more complicated than that, though. She can’t just join. That would be too easy.

See, our heroine Ida Mae Jones is a fucking awesome pilot. Flying is in her blood. Given the choice between
Sherri L. Smith's "Flygirl" is a gem of a novel, taking place during the middle of World War II where a young woman enlists as a pilot in the army. However, in doing so, she not only faces the dangers that await her in the sky, but an everyday danger as she hides her racial identity in order to make her dreams happen. I loved the writing, the strength of the characterizations, and the overarching story as it deals with many difficult issues of the time - racism, sexism, and issues of identity an ...more
Tamora Pierce
I keep an eye open for every book Sherri L. Smith publishes, and I'm never disappointed. This is the story of a young woman of color, the daughter of a flyer, who passes as white to join the WASPs and fly for her country during WWII. Her goal--to serve her country--is admirable, but can she find peace with herself and her color as well? You'll have to read to find out, and you'll be glad you did.
A fun read. I got very caught up in it about halfway through, especially during Ida Mae’s WASP training. The plot suffers a bit from lack of drive - nothing really connects one flight to another. And also, it ended rather abruptly, and without proper closure. But the characters are distinct and engaging, and the portrait of a typical WASP - a pretty fascinating subject by any account - is made even more intriguing by the added tension of black Ida Mae’s having to pretend to be a white girl in th ...more
Interesting concept, but I didn't think the writing or the plot was that well developed. It was a fairly short book, but it took me longer than I thought to get through it because it just didn't grab me. I liked the characters, but, again, it was hard to get into the book and become very connected to them. The concept of passing was interesting to me and the conflict and stress it introduced for Ida Mae, but when the book ended and we were left hanging on what would happen in her future, the que ...more
May 01, 2014 Kaethe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kaethe by: Justine Larbalestier, Doret
Originally Veronica picked it up at a school book sale. So, yes, I've been meaning to read it since she was in elementary school.

But Natasha spotted it and read it as part of her 40 Book Genre Challenge for school. And she loved it. So then I started it, and it was on my bedside table when the crew swept in, removed everything from my house, made the floor 3/4 of an inch taller and put everything more-or-less-back. So on the day itself, when I had time to read, I couldn't lay hands on a single
First sentence: "It's Sunday afternoon, and the phonograph player is jumping like a clown in a parade the way Jolene and I are dancing."

Ida Mae Jones just wants to fly. Ever since her father taught her in his crop duster, she has never felt more at home than in the cockpit of a plane. Now there is a war on and Ida Mae wants to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to help with the war effort. The only roadblock is that the WASP does not accept African-American girls. Ida Mae faces the d
Kelli Clark
I enjoyed the experience of seeing the world through a young woman's eyes in the 1940's. And not just any woman- one who wants to do her part in the war effort by joining the "man's army" to be a pilot! The author really brings to light what it was like to live in segregation and for women to be told they can't do anything outside of being a housewife or secretary. Society truly feowned upon women having dreams to become more than a stay at home mom. It was empowering to see the main character, ...more
Ida learned to fly from her father, and she never wants to be anywhere but in the sky. When her brother finds an ad recruiting women pilots, Ida makes up her mind to apply. The WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program will change Ida's life--because it gives her purpose, because it gives her a way to help her brother (currently MIA in the South Pacific), because she has to pretend to be white. Ida has grown up as a light-skinned black in 1930s/1940s Louisiana, and now has the chance to pursu ...more
AS I mentioned earlier, this is very readable historical fiction. It would be a great addition to a collection to support WWI reads as well as Women's History. Now, I want something similar for my elementary library. I think the tone of this book is above most of my elementary upper grade readers, not inappropriate, but just "boring" to them. I'm looking for a book that relates the strength of women and their place in history. Maybe I'll write it myself, and then I'll have the book I want. :)
M a y a
Oh, how I love reading about women pilots. Flygirl takes place during WWII and is about a girl who joins the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) by "passing", aka pretending she's white.

Of course, when I read the description I thought it was an awesome, spunky thing to do. What I didn't realize until reading the book is that being discovered means more than just getting kicked out of the WASP. In order to maintain the facade, Ida has to drink from the same canteen, share restrooms, and go to "
Flyyyyyyy Girl! Say what, say what, say what?

Her name is Ida Mae and she's a flygirl,
And she didn't let World War II rock her world!

Flyyyyyyy Girl! Say what, say what, say what?

The title reminded me of the chant I remember from my childhood hopsctoch days.
I was expecting to really, really love this book, but as it turns out, I feel that I can only give it three stars. The rating is probably closer to three stars and a half, though.

Everything about this book should be fantastic. It’s about a young girl called Ida Mae, who has wanted to fly ever since her father took her up in his Jenny when she was little. Her chance comes as World War Two takes hold of the country, and she’s suddenly shoved out of her comfortable home life in Slidell, Louisana, a
Lenore Appelhans
Ida Mae loves to fly and dreams of being a licensed pilot. But she has two big obstacles living in the American south in the 1940’s – she’s a woman and she’s black. When the US enters World War II and Ida Mae reads about the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, she decides to apply. Because she knows she has no chance to be admitted into the program as a black, she decides to try to pass as white (which she can thanks to her light skin), even though her family is against it.

This is a solid and
Sherri L. Smith’s ‘Flygirl’ is definitely going on my 2010 favourite’s list. I’m also counting it as one of my all-time favourite Young Adult reads. . . heck, it’s a favourite book all round.

The book opens in December 1941, on the day that Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese. Not long after the attack the US army develop the WASP program - Women Airforce Service Pilots. Twenty-year-old Ida Mae Jones dreams of the sky. Her dearly-departed Daddy taught her to fly for crop dusting. . . but Ida
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Natalie  Harvey
October choice for the Youth Lit Book Club - another meeting I'll have to miss since it's on my Seminar night. :( I'm glad that I still read the book, though.

Generally, I'm not a fan of historical fiction, and I really don't like anything war-related, but this was a fresh perspective, a different side of the war that I had never seen or heard of before. I think this would be a great addition as a choice novel for students studying World War II - especially those who are like me and are not fond
Ashley W
Flygirl has easily become one of my favorite books of the year. Ida Mae’s story of following her dreams despite the racial barriers in her way is one that is truly inspiring. I was introduced to women wanting to fly during World War II in an equally awesome book, Code Name Verity, and though I’m truly afraid of heights and will not be flying anything anytime soon, I understood their passion for being in the sky. After all, there is nothing in the sky that will discriminate against women and Afri ...more
Arapahoe Teens
Get it at the library:
Catherine's Response:
Sherri Smith has crafted a story that deals with the complex issues of race and gender at one of the most fascinating and volatile times in US history. Although at times it felt like she slipped into a recitation of facts about historical figures of the time and aviation, for the most part the story of Ida Mae and her struggles was highly thought-provoking and moved along quickly. Having grown up in the South, where racial discri
Ida Mae Jones wants to fly, the way her daddy taught her to. In 1940s Louisiana, though, a black girl has no chance to fly; Ida can't even get a license. When her little brother brings home an article about the Women's Airforce Service Pilots, formed by Jacqueline Cochran to ferry planes and free up male pilots to fight in the war, Ida thinks this might be her chance to help in the war and help bring her brother home from the front. But the WASP don't take black women, so to get in, Ida has to p ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Well, I've always wanted to fly an airplane myself, so I could relate to Ida Mae's ambitions very well in this story. I was fascinated particularly by the double prejudice against her-- being female and being black. I just can't understand the attitude of thinking of someone lesser than you because their skin color is different. It just doesn't make sense. And yet, that's how it was back during World War II. Ida Mae's successful attempt to "pass" as a white person seemed so unnecessary to me, an ...more
Ok... It was slow getting into this (but I have a feeling that was because work was crazy this week...) but after I got past the initial schwoop-dee-doos, I really enjoyed this book. Ida Mae is compelling and you really do just feel like cheering her on and telling the United States Army to shove it and make the WASP military. ;) I was so torn up when Patsy died... totally didn't see that one coming. I like the mini love story, but I felt that it needed to have a bit more closure on that front. ...more
Steph (Reviewer X)
Ida Mae goes through training to become a WASP and I felt this connection to the girls there and their resulting kinship with one another after spending months together. It’s a really nice and feel-good kind of bond they have, and there’s even a wave of excitement that comes with a good conflict when the feeling’s compromised by Ida Mae’s alienation from pretending to be part of a white-girl group and that it’s all a lie. It’s not that the characters had a remarkable amount of depth to them—they ...more
Joining the burgeoning legion of new WWII fiction is Flygirl. Like the others in this genre, Flygirl deals with uncommon heroes within a common back drop. Here the story follows Ida Mae from small town Louisiana through her training and service as a pilot with the WASP. As a light-skinned African American, Ida has to hide her heritage and assume the identity of a white girl. Chock full of details about airplanes, training, army life and every-day lives, as well as giving you a good feel of what ...more
A work of historical fiction both about the young women who flew for the military during WW II (but were never admitted to the military officially) and what their life was like. Included is their flight of the big airplane that none of the men can handle...the B-29!. It also is a look at the "double life" some African-Americans chose to live in terms of passing for white in order to have the opportunities denied to them because of their color. Ida Mae applies to be a WASP but know that only whit ...more
Abby Crowley
The book FlyGirl by Sherri L. Smith was an intriguing book. I would give it a four out of five star rating. The beginning on the book was a little slow and it took a long time to get the the main event. This book is about a light skinned african american girl named Ida Mae Jones and she wants to be a pilot for the United States military and do her best to help America in World War 2. She reads about a program where women can learn to fly, the only problem is that it is for white people. So, in o ...more
Abby Johnson
Ida Mae Jones loves her family and she loves her friends, but above all else Ida Mae loves to fly. The problem? Because she's a woman and because she's black, she's not allowed to fly. When the US enters World War II and her brother goes off to serve in the military, Ida Mae is determined to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). So she fakes a pilot's license and "passes" for white. Ida Mae risks everything to follow her passion.

I really enjoyed this book. Ida Mae is an interesting narr
Ida Mae Jones loves to fly, ever since her father taught her the soar over the family’s farmfields. But being both African-American and a woman, no one outside of her family will allow her to fly, let alone get her pilot’s license. When she sees an ad to become a female WWII pilot, Ida makes the dangerous decision to use her light skin to pass as a white woman. As she goes through flight school, Ida’s secret weighs heavily upon her, but the deeper she gets into the program, she wonders if she ca ...more
Great historical fiction pick for tweens - a look at the WASP corps in World War II (the first women pilots in the military) and also an interesting look at race relations during World War II through the eyes of Ida Mae Jones, a young light-skinned woman who makes the controversial decision to pass for white to become a WASP. The author uses conventional tween-lit staples (some tragedy, a little romance, squeaky clean heroines) which could get a little tedious for older readers and possibly for ...more
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Sherri L. Smith's life can best be summed up geographically. Born in Chicago, IL, she spent her childhood in Staten Island, NY, Washington D.C., and Upstate New York. Her parents divorced when she was twelve. A year later, she moved back to Chicago with her mother and big brother. After high school, it was off to New York City for college, San Francisco for graduate school, and then Los Angeles, t ...more
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“I wish the army had taught us how to navigate feelings as easily as they did a starless night sky.” 12 likes
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