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Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee



Little Brown Books

for Young Readers

(pub.2.21.2021) 48 pages

Author: Julie Leung

Illustrator: Julie Kwon

Character: Hazel Ying Lee

Overview: "Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn't take no for an answer. She joined the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPSs) during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness.

This moving, true story about a groundbreaking figure will inspire young readers to challenge barriers and reach for the sky." Tantalizing taste:

"Once Hazel had a taste of sky, she couldn't let it go.

To pay for flying lessons, Hazel worked as an elevator operator at a department store.

It was one of the few jobs Chinese girls were allowed to have.

'Invisible jobs,' Hazel called them. Jobs where you were ignored.

Every day in an airless box, she shuttled shoppers from one floor to the next.

When she pulled the lever for different floors, she smiled, imagining she was moving a plane's throttle instead."

And something more: Julie Leung writes in the Author's Note: "Hazel was one of 132 women capable of 'flying pursuit,' meaning she was qualified to pilot superfast and powerful fighter planes such as P63 Kingcobras. On Thanksgiving day in 1944... a miscommunication from the radio tower caused Hazel and another pilot to try to land at the same time. The planes collided, and Hazel died from her injuries two days later, at the age of 32... In 1977, President Jimmy Carter finally gave the WASPs veteran status. And in 2009, President Barack Obama awarded all WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their service."

Today, Memorial Day, we honor and mourn Hazel Ying Lee and all other military personnel who died in the performance of their duties. I also chose this book to honor Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month -- as Julie Leung says, "I marveled at Hazel's bravery and passion to pursue the skies, regardless of the gender and racial barriers she faced."


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