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Children's Fiction General

Amelia and Me

Book 1 of the Ginny Ross Series

by (author) Heather Stemp

Nimbus Publishing
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
General, Girls & Women, Post-Confederation (1867-), Aviation
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2013
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 14
  • Grade: 4 to 9


Highlights a plucky role model for the ages. -Kirkus Reviews

After reading about Amelia Earhart in her friend's scrapbook, twelve-year-old Ginny Ross decides to become a pilot. It's 1930 and luckily, the airstrip in her hometown of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, is a popular launching point for intrepid aviators setting out on transatlantic flights. But how will Ginny's dream take flight when her mother—and society in general—so fiercely believes a woman's place is in the home? At the height of the Great Depression, the Ross family certainly can't spare any money for flying lessons, and Ginny will need a mentor if she is ever going to make it out of Harbour Grace.

With the support of her beloved Papa, kind Uncle Harry, and resourceful Aunt Rose, Ginny takes matters into her own hands. When Amelia Earhart herself shows up in Harbour Grace for her first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Ginny notices the townspeoples' looks of shock and disgust are slowly turning to looks of admiration and respect. Maybe they will soon understand Ginny's dream, and maybe Amelia Earhart is the woman to help convince them.

Based on the real girlhood of author Heather Stemp's Aunt Ginny, Amelia and Me is a big-hearted story of determination, grit, and adventure. Readers will love the archival photos of Amelia Earhart and her plane, along with the interesting historical details skillfully weaved throughout the book.

About the author

Heather Stemp's Newfoundland heritage goes back to her great-grandfather who immigrated from Ireland in the mid-1800's. Her grandfather, grandmother, aunt, and father were all born and raised in Harbour Grace. Her earliest memories include fish and brewis, lassy bread, boiled suppers, and a house load of people talking, laughing, and calling her "some sweet".

After 30 years as an English teacher, Heather retired and wrote, Amelia and Me, a middle grade historical fiction, which was short listed for the 2014 Red Cedar Award. Her second book, Under Amelia's Wing, continues the story of her Aunt Ginny's adventures with Amelia Earhart. She is currently working on the third book in the Ginny Ross series.

Heather lives in North Bay with her husband Don. She has two children and four grandchildren who love to read about their Newfoundland roots.

Heather Stemp's profile page

Excerpt: Amelia and Me: Book 1 of the Ginny Ross Series (by (author) Heather Stemp)

August 1931

Even in August the early morning in Newfoundland was cold. I snuggled under my quilt until the grandfather clock in the parlour struck three. Then I swung my legs over the side of the bed and reached into the warmth under the covers for my clothes. I wiggled out of my nightgown and quickly pulled on my navy dress and red sweater. With my lucky penny wrapped in a hanky and tucked into my pocket, I grabbed my socks and shoes.

The third-floor hallway was quiet as I tiptoed past Mom's bedroom door and the messy hole my brother called his bedroom. The stairs creaked. But if I stuck to the banister side, I should be safe. Still, with every step, I imagined Mom's voice shouting down to me, "Ginny Ross, you get back here!"

On the second floor the only sound was the distant rumble of my grandfather's snoring in the bedroom at the end of the hall. Nana said it was a miracle she got any sleep with the racket Papa made. I turned and headed down the inside stairs to the store.

On the bottom step I pulled on my socks and shoes. A dozen giant steps to the front door and I slid the steel bolt to one side. That was when my plan fell apart. If I left through the front door, then I wouldn't be able to lock it behind me. At 7:00 a.m., when Papa came down to open up, he'd know someone had gone out.

I quickly scanned the store. The front windows on either side of the door didn't open—no escape route there. Behind the counters, floor-to-ceiling shelves piled with groceries lined the side walls. The four windows on the back wall overlooked the bay, but opening them wouldn't help. The drop to the ground was at least twelve feet because the basement led out to the backyard.

That was it! The basement.

The trap door at the end of the short counter was hidden by a box of carrots. I pushed it out of the way and pulled up the door by its rope handle. A damp, earthy smell greeted me at the top of the ladder. I took a deep breath and climbed down the first two rungs. They groaned under my weight, but I couldn't turn back. I was already late.

I grabbed the rope on the underside of the trap door, eased it back into place, and felt my way down to the dirt floor. In the darkness I turned and stretched my arms out in front of me. Still, by the time I found a path through the crates and barrels, my elbows and knees were some sore. I got to the basement door and tugged it open. A cold wind off the bay hit my face.

The moon and stars shone brightly, so I stayed in the shadows close to the stone walls of the store. Voices came from down by the wharf, but there was no one in sight. I crossed Water Street, slipped into the darkness beside Strapp's Pharmacy, and then cut through their back garden to avoid the street light at the corner of Victoria. When I emerged farther up the hill, my cousin Pat Cron stood in front of her house, waving at me to hurry.

The uphill climb tired me out, but I had to keep moving. Halfway up I bent over to catch my breath. When I straightened up and tried to run, I could barely lift my knees. My chest hurt and I panted like an old dog on a hot summer day. Finally I joined Pat, who pulled me into the shadow of the nearest house.

She turned and whispered in my face. "You'd be a better runner if you lost a few pounds."

"And you'd still be in bed if I hadn't told you about my plan."

Pat smiled. "You've got me there." She took my hand and pulled me toward Stevenson's farm, which lay beyond the top end of Victoria Street. As I trotted along beside her, she occasionally gave my arm a tug to remind me I was moving too slowly.

I raised my head to see how much farther we had to climb and saw Jennie Mae Stevenson running down to meet us. Her dad's breakfast pail swung in her hand. Mr. Stevenson ran their farm and also worked part-time as the night watchman for the Harbour Grace Airport Trust. It was his job to keep people away from the planes. If he caught us, Jennie Mae would say we were just bringing his breakfast.

She stopped in front of Pat and me, and the pail stopped swinging. "I've been thinking about your plan, and there's something we haven't considered," she said. "If we get caught by someone other than my dad, he could lose his job."

"So we won't get caught," Pat replied. She stepped around Jennie Mae and carried on up the hill.

"She couldn't care less about what happens to my dad," Jennie Mae whispered. "To her we're just those people from up the hill."

I took her hand and we continued walking. "Has she ever said that to you?" I asked.

"A few times," she replied. "But not when you're around. She's usually with Alice Brant."

Since Pat was my cousin, our parents expected us to do everything together. Usually that was fine with me because Pat could be a lot of fun. But she'd changed. She was moody and unpredictable. Instead of hanging around with Jennie Mae, me, and the rest of the grade sevens, she preferred to be with Alice Brant and her gang of grade eights.

Alice was a snob. Her father owned the biggest fishing fleet in Harbour Grace, and she thought she was right special. In fact, that was how Jennie Mae and I became friends: I stood up to Alice when she called Jennie Mae a farmer's brat.

I glanced over at her. Her worried frown prompted me to stop and raise my right hand. "I promise I'll be careful, and between the two of us, we'll keep Pat under control."

She sighed. "I suppose that's all we can do at this point." Pat was way ahead; she waved at us to hurry. I took Jennie Mae's hand again and we continued our uphill climb. In less than five minutes, we crossed the railroad track and joined Pat at the Stevensons' farm.

"Come on, you two." She grabbed my other hand and dragged Jennie Mae and me behind her. "You're as slow as molasses in January."

I didn't bother answering because I knew she would comment on my weight again.

A left turn and we climbed to the height of land that formed the airstrip. First we saw the light in the window of Mr. Stevenson's shack. Then, there she was: the City of New York—the most beautiful plane I'd ever seen. She was only a silhouette against the early morning sky, but I knew her colours. She was painted maroon, with cream-coloured wings and cream letters down the fuselage to tell us her name.

A rectangle of light shone into the night. Mr. Stevenson had opened his door. We scurried onto the rocks on the south side of the airstrip. We crouched down and pulled our dresses over our legs to keep warm while he inspected the plane.

It was some exciting when she landed yesterday afternoon. It was the last flight until next summer, so a huge crowd came out to meet her. Even when she was no more than a speck in the sky, we all cheered. She touched down, taxied to the end of the runway near the watchman's shack, turned around, and stopped. And there she sat, still surrounded by the rope fence tied to empty oil barrels to keep everyone away.

We knew from the story in the Harbour Grace Standard who to expect. Mr. Brown, the pilot, emerged through the hatch above the cockpit. When Mr. Mears, the owner of the plane, climbed out of the side door, everyone cheered louder. He held a fluffy white dog, which barked at the crowd.

The newspaper went on to say the three of them would take off at 7:00 a.m. to fly around the world. But I knew a secret about the flight. I heard Uncle Harry talking to Papa in the store last night. Uncle Harry was the airport supervisor. He said Mr. Mears and Mr. Brown were not taking off at 7:00 a.m. Instead, they were leaving before dawn.

I barely had time to go to Jennie Mae's house and then to Pat's to tell them the news before Mom sent me off to bed. A lot of people were going to be disappointed, but not the three of us.

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