I met author Candace Fleming at a Virginia Library Association conference a few yers back. I hadn't read her books, yet (my lib classifies them as JUV). She was receiving a prize and gave a wonderfully funny history-nerd speech. I bought two books, and when she signed them I told her "you're a kids' book-writing Sarah Vowell!" And I meant it.
At my old branch I helped people of all ages, all day, so knowing good JUV authors is helpful; sadly the county doesn't get many of Fleming's books, and most are at the big libraries. Now I work at a big library, and when I spotted Amelia Lost on the children's librarian's desk and went "ooh," she let me have it first. It took awhile to pick it up: "I know how it ends," I whined to myself. "It'll be sad."
Well, it is sad, but, wow what a good read! I love how Fleming builds excitement by weaving in one-page (usually) descriptions of the day the plane lost contact and all the people who thought they picked up distress signals from Earhart. Fleming even takes time to explain radio technology and culture of the time so that makes sense. The book is illustrated with period documents, ephemera, and photos. A great, suspenseful tragic read that I'll recommend to kids in grades 4 to 8. (Or, really, older. Even a high schooler who can hack an adult bio would enjoy this; it doesn't present little kiddish.)
P.S. I don't often blog about books anymore, but I want to turn in this book before the weekend. I like to make notes before returning so I'll know if there's swearing or sex or whatever before suggesting a book to a kid. But I couldn't make notes today because Shelfari is down, and has been since about 3:00. Shelfari -- now a subsidiary of Amazon (more rightly named than we knew? A giant monopoly in the making?) -- to add insult to injury, is suggesting I amuse myself by downloading something for my Kindle while I wait! Some damn nerve.