You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen

Tuskegee cover

By Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by Jeffery Weatherford

80 pages / ISBN 9781481449380

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

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YOU CAN FLY: THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN is the first collaboration between award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford and her son, debut illustrator Jeffery Boston Weatherford. An innovative history in verse, the book marks the 75th anniversary of the so-called “Tuskegee Experiment” which challenged racist notions that blacks were unfit to fly. Through poignant poems and striking scratchboard illustrations, YOU CAN FLY depicts the pioneering pilots, mechanics, navigators, bombardiers and nurses as well as celebrities, historical figures and racial barriers of the day.

The Tuskegee Airmen began training at Moton Airfield in Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, in 1941. In 200 of their 205 combat missions, the pilots did not lose a bomber. They were awarded more than 900 medals and became a respected fighter squadron, paving the way for full integration of the armed forces in 1948. The Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.



ART FROM THE BOOK  (click image to enlarge)

YCF Tuskegee Airman  Attention  Look to the Sky


ALSC Notables for Older Readers (Association for Library Service to Children, American Library Association)

Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Verse

NCTE Best Verse Novels (National Council of Teachers of English)

New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading & Sharing

Fuse 8 Productions Best Poetry Books for Kids

Nonfiction Detectives Best Nonfiction Books

CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


*Weatherford again wields the power of poetry to tell a gripping historical story, reinforced by dramatically shaded scratchboard illustrations by her son, making a notable debut.—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

*Weatherford’s skill with language provides clear voices for the trainees, and cultural specifics provide additional texture and deepen understanding of the young men.  A masterful, inspiring evocation of an era.—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

[A]uthentic voices and hard truths. [T]he book offers a more personal connection to the men and their ideas and feelings through poems . . . .– School Library Journal

The narrative voice draws readers into the action, addressing them directly and inviting them to imagine themselves into this ground-breaking role . . . this title is particularly well adapted to classroom use, where language arts and history students can share common air space.– Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

One of the most significant features of Weatherford’s verse novel are the incredibly detailed, 23 scratchboard illustrations created by Jeffery Boston Weatherford. These black and white illustrations accompany almost every poem in the collection. At times the entire page is blacked out and the text and the scratchboard illustration appear in white to contrast.–The Verse Novel Review blog

[B]eautifully written poems…. [B]rilliant pictures…. Kids, ages nine through high school, should be required to read this outstanding book!Meridian Magazine

[P]owerful free-verse, lifting, carrying us into the African-American experience…. Weatherford always, always elevates our spirits with the dignity and love of freedom exhibited by these heroes. [Jeffery Weatherford] has illustrated the book with strong, scratchboard pieces full of character and grit. [A} fascinating, uplifting read….–Orange Marmalade Books

ART FROM THE BOOK  (click image to enlarge)

YCF Tuskegee Planes (1)

PHOTOS (click image to enlarge)

photo (20)  Carole & Jeff c 2000  Jeff and CBW at HU 2013

Left: Jeffery Weatherford with “Tuskegee Airmen” portrait at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, Dowell, MD, 2016.

Center: Carole and Jeffery, c. 2000

Right: Jeffery and Carole at Howard University Art Gallery


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