promise the night

Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

Beryl Markham was the first person to fly solo from England to North America.  She also had a remarkable childhood, growing up in British East Africa.  Here the story of her childhood is interwoven with her perilous journey across the ocean to set the record.  Her younger years reveal the birth of her independent, rebellious spirit.  She could ride the fieriest stallion on her father’s horse farm in Africa, match wits with the boys of the local tribe, unsettle the most stern governess, and even survive attacks by lions.  This is a book about a girl who refused to become a lady and instead became a heroine.

MacColl’s work of historical fiction reads as such an adventure story, that readers will spend the entire book wondering what is true.  Happily after reading the author’s note at the end, all of the best parts of the story are real.  The astounding parts of the story are true!  The book is a result of detailed historical research and reveals much about this celebrated pilot who set her own pace. 

Beryl is a wonderful protagonist.  She could have been portrayed as a very harsh young girl, but instead we see her doubts, her resolve, and finally her ability to overcome any adversity.  It is a story of bravery but also one with lots of heart.  MacColl’s writing never gets in the way of the story she is telling.  Instead she writes evocatively of the African setting and this amazing girl.

If you are looking for an inspiring real-life heroine for children, look no further.  But best of all, it’s a rip-roaring tale too.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

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