True crime has been a recent interest of mine, something I got into these past two years or so. I was excited to read Escape at 10,000 Feet, a nonfiction book for middle grade, bordering on a graphic novel, about the hijacking committed by the man known as D.B. Cooper. This is a gripping story told in a fun and informative way that kids who like graphic novels and/or true crime will enjoy.

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The summary, from Amazon:

A thrilling new graphic nonfiction series about real FBI cases, launching with a gripping, minute-by-minute account of the only unsolved airplane hijacking in the U.S.

NOVEMBER 24, 1971

2:00 P.M.
A man in his mid-forties, wearing a suit and overcoat, buys a ticket for Northwest Orient Airlines flight 305 bound for Seattle.

3:07 P.M.
The man presents his demands: $200,000 in cash and four parachutes. If the demands are not met, he threatens to detonate the explosive device in his briefcase.

So begins the astonishing true story of the man known as D.B. Cooper, and the only unsolved airplane hijacking case in the United States. Comic panels, reproductions of documents from real FBI files, and photos from the investigation combine for a thrilling read for sleuths of all ages.

What better way to draw readers into nonfiction than through an exciting graphic novel? This series will appeal to readers of series such as Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. Fans of history and whodunits, CSI-club kids, and graphic novel enthusiasts alike will be pulled in by the suspenseful, complex, and kid-appropriate cases in this series.

Sidebars provide fun facts about pre-2001 air travel, serial numbers on currency, airplane design, and more. Backmatter showcases period photos and primary source material in FBI archives.

Buy Escape at 10,000 Feet here.

Escape at 10,000 Feet tells the story of the man known as D.B. Cooper who hijacked a plane after demanding $200,000 in cash and parachutes to escape. If you haven’t heard it before, it’s a super interesting story. Cooper was never found, and the money, which had been earmarked, was never spent. The strange case remains unsolved.

This is a fun story for middle grade because it’s so bizarre and intriguing, and also because it’s low stakes. Other true crime tales can be pretty macabre, but no one died when Cooper hijacked the plane. Not only did the authorities and plane staff make sure to keep the passengers protected, but it seemed Cooper did not want to frighten any of them either. Though he claimed to have a bomb (and showed either a bomb or a fake one), he reserved his communication with the staff on the plane.

The format of this story makes it fun to read and gives it great kid-appeal. It borders on a graphic novel, with information shared through illustrations, text, replications of materials from the case, and diagrams. Photographs from the case are in the backmatter.

Overall, this was a fun and fast-paced read. I think it has appeal to kids interested in true crime and/or graphic novels. I rate it 5 stars.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Unsolved Case Files: Escape at 10,000 Feet: D.B. Cooper and the Missing MoneyUnsolved Case Files: Escape at 10,000 Feet: D.B. Cooper and the Missing Money by Tom Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first in what promises to be a fun true crime series for kids. Bordering on a graphic novel. Informative, great illustrations and use of diagrams.

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Book Club Questions

  1. Had you heard of this case before? Are there any other theories you are aware of?
  2. Why do you think Cooper committed this crime? What do you think happened to him?
  3. Have you looked into this case any further? What resources can you share with us?
  4. What interests you most about this case?
  5. Do you think Cooper or the money will ever be found?

Interested? Buy Escape at 10,000 Feet.
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