Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her. When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.

“It’s Sunday afternoon and the phonograph player is jumping like a clown in a parade the way Jolene and I are dancing.”


“It was hard not to find myself cheering Ida Mae on. Hard not to get an itch to fly after reading this. Sherri Smith is a truly talented writer and Flygirl is a wonderful story.”

Jacqueline Woodson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Feathers and Show Way


Flygirl captures the indomitable spirit of the WASP. Main characters Ida Mae, Lily and Patsy exhibit the courage mixed with daring and commitment that still inspire WASP admirers. Congratulations, Sherri, on your fine contribution!”

—Marianne Wood, Museum Director, National WASP WWII Museum


“Gifted novelist Sherri L. Smith has written a passionate and important book about a young woman who heroically risks everything when she discovers her dreams and her identity are, heartbreakingly, at odds. A wonderfully readable story that illuminates a too-little known chapter of American history.”

—Michael M. Cart, Former President, YALSA, and Chair, 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Committee


“This breakthrough title adds a new story to the shelves of World War II books.”

Booklist, starred review

“This well-told, interesting story moves along at a good clip, as Smith paints a vivid picture of the WASPs, with the suspense of Ida Mae’s deception always lurking beneath the surface…A vibrant picture of WWII women and of Jim Crow as it was then.”

Kirkus Review

“…this gripping and emotional read grabs you by the heart and won’t let go until the final page.”

The Bookbag

“This is a wonderful book for so many different types of readers…This book isn’t an “issue” book, but it is full of issues—issues that are handled beautifully.”

Armchair Interviews

“I had not realized that I like historical fiction until I started reading this… I’ll describe it in four words: This book is amazing.”

The Book Reader




Publisher:  G.P. Putnam and Sons
Publication Date:  January 22, 2009
Genre:  Young Adult, Historical
Hardcover: 275 pages
Paperback: 304 pages
E-book: 306 pages

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