Book Review: Eddie Rickenbacker, Boy Pilot and Racer

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Other Books in This Series

• Amelia Earhart
• William Henry Harrison
• Lew Wallace
• Juliette Low
• James Whitcomb Riley
• Mahalia Jackson
• George Rogers Clark
John Hancock
Phillis Wheatley
Abner Doubleday

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Book Six in the wonderful Young Patriots Series is Eddie Rickenbacker, Young Pilot and Racer, by Kathryn Cleven Sisson. Like the other books in the series, this book is a republication, this time of a book that came out originally in 1974.

It is as compelling as ever.

Rickenbacker is best known, of course, for his success as a fighter pilot in World War I. It is his daring spirit that fills this wonderful book. Time after time, we see young Eddie try potentially dangerous things just because he wants to see what would happen. He hops on the back of a moving rail car, then gets thrown off the back and narrowly escapes being run over. He tries to fly by holding an umbrella while riding a bicycle off a neighbor's roof. It is this daredevil attitude, and the ability to learn how to measure the chances he takes, that propels young Eddie into the armed forces and later into the skies over France.

One thing readers might not know about Eddie Rickenbacker is that he was also a famous race car driver. Fascinated by cars and engines since he was very small, Eddie determines to learn all about them and gets several jobs in the industry, working his way up to being a mechanic and then a driver of the fancy new race cars that are making the rounds in America. Eddie becomes so good, in fact, that he makes $60,000 one year, way before World War I. That's a lot of money!

One thing that this book does very well (and that some of the other books in this series do not) is cover the thing that makes the book's subject famous. Young readers will recognize Eddie Rickenbacker as the famous World War I pilot. This book tells the story of his combat experiences, detailing his aerial successes until the end of the war, when Eddie is 28. This book connects the dots, from the daring of the young boy engineer to the daring of the young man pilot, with stops along the way to illustrate that Eddie was a fun-loving, hard-working, family-loving, adventure-craving kid who grew up into an adult who liked to test (and beat) the odds.

I highly recommend this book, one of the best in the series and one of the best young biographies of its kind.



Other books in the series:
Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer
William Henry Harrison: Young Tippecanoe
Lew Wallace: Boy Writer
Juliette Low: Girl Scouts Founder
James Whitcomb Riley: Young Poet


Graphics courtesy of Patria Press

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