Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, August 19, 2022

Jack Knight’s Brave Flight by Jill Esbaum

Jack Knight’s Brave Flight: How One Gutsy Pilot Saved the U.S. Air Mail Service
by Jill Esbaum; Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Calkins Creek. An imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2022

At 10:44 p.m., on February 22, 1921, in North Platte, Nebraska Jack Knight adjusted his goggles and took off in his open cockpit airplane with six sacks of the U.S. Mail. He thought he’d just have to fly as far as Omaha, but, when he reached Omaha at 1:10 a.m., Jack learned that his replacement couldn’t reach the airport. To save the U.S. Air Mail service, Jack Knight is their only hope. Will he be able to stay awake and fly 830 miles to Chicago? 

In 1921, lawmakers decided to cut funding for the U.S. Air Mail Service as a reaction to the numerous plane crashes. Officials and pilots, outrages by this decision, hatched a plan to save the service. They would prove flying was the fastest way to move mail from coast to coast. What they didn’t expect was a blizzard, sub-zero temperatures. Lucky for them, and us, there was Jack Knight!

Each page is filled with Innerst’s historically accurate illustrations done in watercolor, ink, pencil, rubber stamps, and some digital (Photoshop). They certainly add much excitement to this already thrilling informational picture book. A real page-turner. 

Included is an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, and illustrator’s note.

Even high school students would appreciate hearing this true story of grit and determination.

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