Freddie the Flyer

Tundra. Oct. 2023. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781774880807.
Gr 1-5–As a tribute to the first Indigenous commercial pilot in the Arctic, Carmichael’s straightforward chronicle is divided into 12 parts, usually one short paragraph each, using the months of the year to relate brief informational essays on his own life. Each month is written in three languages: English, Gwich’in, and Inuvialuktun. Growing up Gwich’in in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Carmichael dreamed of becoming a pilot one day. Dropping out of school at age 10, he helped his family and worked until he could afford to attend flying school as a young man. Short vignettes tell of hand-picked incidents during his career as a pilot and business owner. Loreen-Wulf’s richly colored illustrations reveal the rugged landscape, different seasons, and various animals, including huskies, musk ox, caribou, even the tracks of a grizzly bear. Carmichael was able to do much good for his community and was honored by having the local airport named after him. At the book’s conclusion, there is a concise biography of Carmichael along with a description of what the names of each month mean in the two languages. Unfortunately, this staid autobiography doesn’t contain enough kid-friendly substance to hold the attention of children and may be of more interest to adults.
VERDICT With few autobiographies for children about Indigenous “firsts,” this fills a niche. It is otherwise mostly of local interest or for adults already familiar with Carmichael’s story.

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