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You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen

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In this “masterful, inspiring evocation of an era” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford “wields the power of poetry to tell [the] gripping historical story” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) of the Tuskegee Airmen.

I WANT YOU! says the poster of Uncle Sam. But if you’re a young black man in 1940, he doesn’t want you in the cockpit of a war plane. Yet you are determined not to let that stop your dream of flying.

So when you hear of a civilian pilot training program at Tuskegee Institute, you leap at the chance. Soon you are learning engineering and mechanics, how to communicate in code, how to read a map. At last the day you’ve longed for is here: you are flying!

From training days in Alabama to combat on the front lines in Europe, this is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the groundbreaking African-American pilots of World War II. In vibrant second-person poems, Carole Boston Weatherford teams up for the first time with her son, artist Jeffery Weatherford, in a powerful and inspiring book that allows readers to fly, too.

ISBN-13: 9781481449380

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: 05-03-2016

Pages: 96

Product Dimensions: 5.70(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)

Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

Carole Boston Weatherford has written many award-winning books for children, including You Can Fly illustrated by her son Jeffery; Box, which won a Newbery Honor; Unspeakable, which won the Coretta Scott King award, a Caldecott honor, and was a finalist for the National Book Award finalist; Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; and Caldecott Honor winners Freedom in Congo Square; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement; and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Carole lives in North Carolina. Visit her at CBWeatherford.com. You Can Fly illustrated by her son Jeffery; Box, which won a Newbery Honor; Unspeakable, which won the Coretta Scott King award, a Caldecott honor, and was a finalist for the National Book Award finalist; Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; and Caldecott Honor winners Freedom in Congo Square; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement; and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Carole lives in North Carolina. Visit her at CBWeatherford.com. Jeffery Boston Weatherford is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and a performance poet. He has lectured, performed, and led art and writing workshops in the US, the Middle East, and West Africa. Jeffery was a Romare Bearden Scholar at Howard University, where he earned an MFA in painting and studied under members of the Black Arts Movement collective AfriCobra. A North Carolina native and resident, Jeffery has exhibited his art in North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Visit him at CBWeatherford.com.

Read an Excerpt

You Can Fly
No matter that there are only 130

licensed black pilots in the whole nation.

Your goal of being a pilot cannot be grounded

by top brass claiming blacks are not fit to fly.

Your vision of planes cannot be

blocked by clouds of doubt.

The engine of your ambition will not brake

for walls of injustice—no matter how high.

The sky’s no limit if you’ve flown

on your own power in countless dreams;

not if you’ve raised homing pigeons

on Harlem rooftops;

or watched crop dusters

buzzing over rows of cotton;

not if you’ve gazed at stars

and known God meant for you to soar.

Table of Contents

Head to the Sky 1

The Civilian Pilot Training Program 2

Train Ride to the Clouds 4

A Shot 5

The First Cadets 7

Officers 9

The Odds 10

Keep 'Em Flying: Tuskegee Army Airfield Nurses 12

Ground School 14

Solo, At Last 16

Sugar, Sugar 18

The Other War 19

Downtime 20

Training Planes 22

Pearl Harbor 24

Dorie Miller Earns the Navy Cross 26

Private Joe Louis 28

Fighting Boredom 31

Second Lieutenant 32

William Henry Hastie 34

The Double V Campaign: Pens Mighty as Swords 36

Anxious 39

Fight Song 41

Facing the Enemy 43

Operation Prove Them Wrong 44

Routines 46

Lena Home: More than a Pin-Up 49

Red Tail Angels 51

The Black Birdmen 53

Your Record 55

No Hero's Welcome 57

A Long Line 59

Epilogue 63

Author's Note 67

Time Line 69

Resources 77