Great Illustrated Books

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

By Candace Fleming

Schwartz & Wade, 2011
Pages : 128
Suggested Ages: 10 and Up
ISBN: 0375841989

Amelia Earhart’s disappearance continues to fascinate us nearly seventy-five years later because it remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 20th century. And Amelia herself continues to intrigue us because she was a woman so clearly ahead of her times. Candace Fleming alternates chapters that recount Earhart’s life story with chapters that recreate the desperate search for her and her plane from July 2-18, 1937, before President Roosevelt finally declared it a lost cause.

From early childhood, Amelia Earhart was a daredevil who refused to play by the rules. She dropped out of college to work as a volunteer nurse’s aide after seeing wounded veterans return home from World War I, and had planned to return to college to attend Medical School, but caught the flying bug instead. The biographical chapters focus on the challenges Earhart faced as a woman in a man’s world, as well as her adventurous spirit. Black-and-white archival photos appear on nearly every page, and the visual design of the book is likely to draw readers in, even those who don’t already have an interest in the aviator.

But the real hook in the book is the frantic search that’s recounted in short two to three-page chapters between the biographical passages. We learn of the efforts of the crew aboard the coast guard cutter, Itasca, who tapped out messages in Morse code and searched their radio frequencies in vain for a response from the plane. And we also learn about ordinary citizens back home who may have heard messages from Earhart through their own ham radios: a housewife in Amarillo, Texas; a sixteen-year-old boy in Rock Springs, Wyoming; and a fifteen-year-old girl in St. Petersburg, Florida. Most tantalizing is the last of these, as the teenage girl, home alone, appears to have heard Earhart’s final cries for help as her plane filled with water: “Help me. Water’s high.” Even though we know how the story ends, Fleming keeps us all on the edge of our seats.

Tips for Parents: Many kids show a definite preference for nonfiction from an early age and, luckily, there are a lot of great books of information out there to meet their needs and interests. Encourage your son or daughter to pursue special interests by helping them find good nonfiction books on their subjects. And you can encourage your fiction readers to try nonfiction, too. The best nonfiction, such as Amelia Lost, will grab a reader’s attention from the start, just as all great stories do. Many nonfiction books make excellent read-alouds, too, so add some to your family reading selections.

Reviewed by : KTH


If you love this book, then try:

Armstrong, Jennifer. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance. Crown Books for Young Readers, 1998.

Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). National Geographic Children, 2011.

Chaikin, Andrew and Alan Bean. Mission Control, This Is Apollo: The Story of the first Voyages to the Moon. Viking Juvenile, 2009.

Critics have said

This honest depiction of Earhart's professional and personal life forms a complete portrait of a complex woman, making her final doomed flight (and a reproduction of a teenager's notebook transcription of what may have been Earhart's last radio transmission) all the more affecting.
Publishers Weekly

A stunning look at an equally stunning lady.
Kirkus Reviews