Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith
Barb Rosenstock, illus. by Scott Dawson. Dutton, $16.99 (32p)
Louise Smith never played by the rules, first getting behind the wheel of a car when she was a free-spirited seven-year-old. Her love for driving doesn’t stop there, and when, years later, a race promoter is looking for a girl to drive in a race—as a joke—Louise steps up. She places third and starts regularly competing in races (frequently getting into wrecks), but winning 38 times. Dawson’s gorgeous, light-infused acrylics convey Louise’s self-assured nature, while race scenes capture the rush of adrenaline in a blur of glinting metal. Rosenstock’s upbeat prose finishes on a high note, with aging Louise flying down a country road: “Yep, the old lady could still drive fast enough to go anywhere she wanted.” This debut for both author and illustrator is a winner. Ages 5–up. — starred review, Publisher's Weekly
Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith.
Rosenstock, Barb (Author) , Dawson, Scott (Illustrator)
Nov 2010. 32 p. Dutton, hardcover, $16.99. (9780525421733). 796.72092.
In 1923, when she was 7 years old, Louise Smith crashed a car into a chicken coop, and after that, until her death at age 90, she never stopped driving, or crashing, even when she needed bifocals to see the road. While still adhering to a traditional life path (marriage, a nursing career), she went out at night and drove “until she felt that she was finally going fast enough to get somewhere—even if she always wound up right back home.” Eventually, she began entering races from Daytona to Canada in the early days of what would become NASCAR, and she competed confidently, becoming the first woman elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Realistic, action-filled, mixed-media images and a well-paced text express the exciting, biographical story of a figure rarely featured in children’s books. Anchored by a strong author’s note, this account of a person once called “the craziest woman we know” is a great choice for both racing enthusiasts and children seeking stories about female trailblazers.
FEARLESS: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith
Illustrated by Scott Dawson
Louise Smith was not your typical girl growing up in the 1920s. She craved speed, and that led her to car racing, a relatively new sport dominated by men. Louise’s spunk was never dampened by the challenges she faced as a female racecar driver. Though her husband disapproved and the sport was dangerous, she pursued her dreams and never gave up, paving the way for today’s female racers. Using bits and pieces of the legends that grew up around Louise, Rosenstock tells her story in a simple but animated way, moving from one character-developing anecdote (she crashed her car into a chicken coop at the age of seven) to another (she snuck off to Daytona under the pretext of a vacation in the South). “Fast! Faster! Flying Free!” is the book’s refrain, repeated in bold, red type that conveys movement and energy. Dawson’s paintings give Louise’s story the acceleration she loved. The blurred images show motion and speed, depicting history accurately, though through a nostalgic lens. A solid choice for racing fans and those who like to read about women trailblazers.
— Kirkus Reviews