Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy, 2013
(Ages 5 – 10)
After reading about her amazing accomplishments, I can’t believe Betty Skelton is not a household name. Betty grew up outside of a naval air base in the 1930’s and quickly developed a love for flying. She flew solo at the age of 12 and went on to break other records in aerobatic flying and race car driving with an exceptional speed of 315.74 mph. She then began a career as the first female boat jumper even though she couldn’t swim! After conquering the air, land, and sea, Betty set her sights on space. In 1959, she became the first woman to train with male astronauts. Even though she ended up not going into space, she paved the way for other women.
The story of Betty Skelton’s extraordinary life was always a go-to for my second-grade biography unit. My students loved reading this book and frequently asked to check it out when I was done. Meghan McCarthy does an excellent job of concisely telling of Betty’s achievements and bringing them to life with her signature illustrations. One of the things that makes this book a standout is the way that McCarthy effortlessly weaves in fun facts about Betty’s life to keep children engaged such as the tidbit of her flying barefoot and naming her plane “Little Stinker.” The back of the book is filled with additional fun facts, quotes, a time line, and further resources. Betty Skelton was a brave, determined woman who broke boundaries and everyone should know her incredible tale.