Sprouting Wings

The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Fly Across the United States

Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Look inside
The inspirational and true story of James Herman Banning, the first African American pilot to fly across the country, comes to life in this picture book biography perfect for fans of Hidden Figures and Little Leaders. Includes art from a Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator.

James Herman Banning always dreamed of touching the sky. But how could a farm boy from Oklahoma find a plane? And how would he learn to fly it? None of the other pilots looked like him. Despite the challenges and prejudices that stood in his way, James knew he belonged above the clouds.

In a journey that would span 3,300 miles, take twenty-one days, and inspire a nation, James Herman Banning proved that you can't put barriers on dreams. Louisa Jaggar incorporates over seven years of research, including Banning's own writings and an interview with the aviator's great-nephew. She teams up with cowriter Shari Becker and award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper to capture Banning's historic flight across the United States.
 
"A pathos-filled picture book that celebrates the life of a figure in American history who hasn't been featured often." -School Library Journal, Starred Review
Shari Becker previously held a creative post atNickelodeon and is the author of Maxwell’sMountain. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. View titles by Shari Becker
© Jacob Blinkenstaff
FLOYD COOPER always dreamed of becoming an artist, and he has now illustrated dozens of books for children, including Jump! (From the Life of Michael Jordan), Back of the Bus, and Max and the Tag-Along Moon. He received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and a Coretta Scott King Honor for his illustrations in Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land. He lives in New Jersey with his family. Learn more about his work at floydcooper.com and follow him on Twitter @floydcooper4. View titles by Floyd Cooper
  • NOMINEE | 2023
    Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE | 2022
    Pennsylvania Keystone State Reading Association Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2022
    CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Readers
A Bank Street "Outstanding Merit" and Best Book of the Year Pick!

"A story well worth sharing." -Kirkus Reviews

"Its edifying, empowering narrative will enthrall aspiring aviators and young history buffs." —Publishers Weekly

"An entertaining, exquisitely illustrated biography of a Black aeronaut who should be as well known as the Wright Brothers." —The Horn Book

"An irresistibly inspiring story for all ages." —Kathryn Erskine, author of the National Book Award winner Mockingbird

"A richly illustrated account of the remarkable career of aviation pioneer James Herman Banning." —Von Hardesty, author of Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History

"A marvelous work that does its hero proud." —Allan Stratton, author of the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Chanda’s Secrets

"An exhilarating story about (African)-American achievement! Sure to captivate and inspire young people, to follow their dreams, begin their journey, push through adversity until they reach their goals." —Jeantique Oriol, actor and star of The Flying Hobos

 "Sprouting Wings is the story of a dream, ingenuity, guts, bravery, and determination." —Gary Schmidt, two-time Newbury Honor winner and National Book Award finalist 

"This story reminds me of a determined little girl who also took to the skies and became the first African American woman to fly and receive an international license, my great aunt Bessie Coleman!" —Dr. Jilda D. Motley

About

The inspirational and true story of James Herman Banning, the first African American pilot to fly across the country, comes to life in this picture book biography perfect for fans of Hidden Figures and Little Leaders. Includes art from a Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator.

James Herman Banning always dreamed of touching the sky. But how could a farm boy from Oklahoma find a plane? And how would he learn to fly it? None of the other pilots looked like him. Despite the challenges and prejudices that stood in his way, James knew he belonged above the clouds.

In a journey that would span 3,300 miles, take twenty-one days, and inspire a nation, James Herman Banning proved that you can't put barriers on dreams. Louisa Jaggar incorporates over seven years of research, including Banning's own writings and an interview with the aviator's great-nephew. She teams up with cowriter Shari Becker and award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper to capture Banning's historic flight across the United States.
 
"A pathos-filled picture book that celebrates the life of a figure in American history who hasn't been featured often." -School Library Journal, Starred Review

Author

Shari Becker previously held a creative post atNickelodeon and is the author of Maxwell’sMountain. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. View titles by Shari Becker
© Jacob Blinkenstaff
FLOYD COOPER always dreamed of becoming an artist, and he has now illustrated dozens of books for children, including Jump! (From the Life of Michael Jordan), Back of the Bus, and Max and the Tag-Along Moon. He received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and a Coretta Scott King Honor for his illustrations in Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land. He lives in New Jersey with his family. Learn more about his work at floydcooper.com and follow him on Twitter @floydcooper4. View titles by Floyd Cooper

Awards

  • NOMINEE | 2023
    Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE | 2022
    Pennsylvania Keystone State Reading Association Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2022
    CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Readers

Praise

A Bank Street "Outstanding Merit" and Best Book of the Year Pick!

"A story well worth sharing." -Kirkus Reviews

"Its edifying, empowering narrative will enthrall aspiring aviators and young history buffs." —Publishers Weekly

"An entertaining, exquisitely illustrated biography of a Black aeronaut who should be as well known as the Wright Brothers." —The Horn Book

"An irresistibly inspiring story for all ages." —Kathryn Erskine, author of the National Book Award winner Mockingbird

"A richly illustrated account of the remarkable career of aviation pioneer James Herman Banning." —Von Hardesty, author of Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History

"A marvelous work that does its hero proud." —Allan Stratton, author of the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Chanda’s Secrets

"An exhilarating story about (African)-American achievement! Sure to captivate and inspire young people, to follow their dreams, begin their journey, push through adversity until they reach their goals." —Jeantique Oriol, actor and star of The Flying Hobos

 "Sprouting Wings is the story of a dream, ingenuity, guts, bravery, and determination." —Gary Schmidt, two-time Newbury Honor winner and National Book Award finalist 

"This story reminds me of a determined little girl who also took to the skies and became the first African American woman to fly and receive an international license, my great aunt Bessie Coleman!" —Dr. Jilda D. Motley

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