From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 5-Beginning with the endpapers (replicas of 1784 advertisements for a hot-air-balloon exhibition and the newspaper account of its success), Van Leeuwen sets the stage for this tale told through the eyes of 13-year-old Edward Warren, the first person in America to ascend in a balloon. An author's note explains that although the events themselves are factual and Warren's trip aloft has been documented, not much is known about this brave young orphaned apprentice who volunteered to take the first experimental ride. This appealing narrative weaves the established facts with imaginative details of his life. Ventura's oil paintings capture the flavor of the times with crowd scenes that resemble the foreshortened, stiffly posed figures of Colonial times. They alternate with beautifully detailed, realistic renderings of the main characters. Not only will this picture book stir readers' interest in this particular balloon flight, but it will also attract the attention of students studying the time period or learning about the history of aviation. Anik McGrory's Mouton's Impossible Dream (Harcourt, 2000) describes the original launching in France the year before Warren's adventure, but it is told through the eyes of a stowaway sheep and appeals to a younger audience.Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 1-3. On June 24, 1784, in Baltimore, 13-year-old Edward Warren became the first person in America to go up in a hot-air balloon. In this picture book, Van Leeuwen lets the boy tell his own story, which focuses more on his passion for flight than on the significance of this moment in aviation history. There is, however, still information here: children will learn that tavern-keeper Peter Carnes, who built the balloon, was too heavy to risk going up, which gave daring, young Edward the opportunity to make his dream of flight come true. In an afterword, Van Leeuwen notes that little about Warren is actually known, which may account for the book's rather abrupt ending. Full-page oil paintings are both realistic and solemn as they reflect the colonial times, and two newspaper articles written by Carnes at the time of the actual event appear on the endpapers. Pair this with Anik McGrary's Mouton's Impossible Dream
(2000) for an interesting classroom spotlight on early aviation. Julie CumminsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved