Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thriller writer inspires children with stories of American heroes

by Matthew Pitman

Brad Meltzer knows a few things about heroes. He has written very entertaining books and comics featuring fictional super heroes. For the first time he has published two childrens’ books about the real-life American heroes Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln.

In his book  I Am Amelia Earhart, Meltzer describes Earhart’s childhood and her career in aviation. When she was young, Amelia acted very unlady-like by the standards of the of the early 1900s. For example, she refused to play with dolls and wear dresses. Instead, she built miniature roller coasters and day-dreamed about flying.

As Amelia gets older, Meltzer describes the aviation records that she broke. She was the first woman pilot to reach the highest altitude ever recorded by flying to 14,000 feet.

Some memorable quotes that Earhart is known for are, “Never interrupt someone who is doing what you said could not be done,” and “I know no bounds.” These words are inspiring because they encourage kids to not limit themselves.

Clearly, Meltzer’s theme is to chase your dreams no matter what gets in your way. He lets kids know that dreams are not just for adults.

Illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos does a good job of making Earhart look like a little kid throughout the story which connects young readers to her and her accomplishments.

Children from kinder to third grade would enjoy this book because of its fun pictures, interesting facts, and easy to comprehend language.

Meltzer delivers another fun everyday hero story with I Am Abraham Lincoln.

When Abraham Lincoln was young he could not stop reading. He would even lie to his parents and say he was working in the corn field when he was really reading. He continued attending school even after most kids his age had stopped going.  Although he was bullied in school, he never stopped being himself.

When Lincoln got older, he put his reading to good use and became president. He had always been unhappy about slavery, and so during the Civil War he freed the slaves. And out of respect, some of the slaves came and fought for the Union.

Lincoln’s most important lesson was about equality of all people. He said, in his most famous speech at Gettysburg, “All men are created equal,” giving the people of the Union the confidence to win the war.  Meltzer shows that Lincoln’s greatest lesson is to fight for what you believe in, whether it is freeing a turtle or freeing the slaves. Lincoln is a great example of how far loving to read can take you.

The illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos are fun, but because Lincoln is shown in a suit and a beard even as a child, it struck me as a little odd. Just like in “I Am Amelia Earhart,” the illustrations do a good job of making the story easy to read and understand because the pictures are so closely related to the story.

Children will enjoy these inspirational books. Meltzer plans to write four more childrens' books about heroes. 

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