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The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont Hardcover – September 1, 2011

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Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey. Each page instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next. Hardcover | More for ages 3-5
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3-Move over Orville and Wilber Wright and meet Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian inventor living in Paris who should have been dubbed the father of flight. With the help of his watchmaker best friend, Louis Cartier, Alberto was able to wear the first men's wristwatch to perfectly time his aerodynamic feats while being challenged to be the first to fly. Victoria Griffith's lovely book (Abrams, 2011) tells the story of how "Alberto Santos-Dumont loved floating over Paris in his own personal flying machine" and became the first man to lift off and land a completely self-propelled plane. Pair the audio with the hardcover book for a wonderful read-along and so that listeners can peruse Eva Montanari's pastel, chalk, and oil illustrations. Narrator Jeff Woodman conveys the era with perfect pacing and turns a potentially dry topic into an inspiring story. There's also an author's note and a selected bibliography chronicling the aviator's life. Purchase where biographical read-alongs are popular.-Amanda Schiavulli, West Orange Public Library, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

About the Author

Victoria Griffith has worked as an international journalist, writing about everything from Julia Child to the Amazon rain forest. She lives in Boston with her husband and their three daughters. Eva Montanari is an internationally recognized author and illustrator. She lives in Rimini, Italy.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419700111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419700118
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,129,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After some disastrous stints as a waitress and a banker, I decided to become a writer. As a journalist for the UK's Financial Times, I made lunch for cooking diva Julia Child (who didn't like the blackberry dessert) and interviewed star architect Frank Gehry (who said the shopping mall across the street made him want to puke). I spent time in the Amazon rain forest with the friendly Yanomami Indians, and as science correspondent wrote about everything from space exploration to the decoding of the human genome. Now, I live in Boston with my three daughters and Brazilian husband.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The American publishing industry is good at a lot of things. They produce some pretty delightful fare for children on a variety of different topics. If you want vampires or stories of cute puppies or twists on fairy tales then you are in luck. If, however, you're looking for something about people who are famous in countries other than America, I have bad news. We're not that great at highlighting other nations' heroes. Oh, you'll see such a biography once in a rare while but unless they're a world figure (Gandhi, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.) we're not usually going to hear much about them. Maybe that's part of the reason I get so excited when I see books that buck the trend. Books like Victoria Griffith's The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont. The other reason is that in a greedy way I get to learn about new historical figures along with the child readers. Alberto Santos-Dumont, for all his charms, is not exactly a household name here in the States. Credit where credit is due, then since author Victoria Griffith is doing what she can to remedy that problem.

If you were a resident of Paris, France in the early 20th century you might have glanced up into the sky to see one Alberto Santos-Dumont in his handy dandy dirigible. A transplanted Brazilian and fan of the power of flight, Alberto was friends with Louis Cartier who bestowed upon him a wrist-based alternative to the pocket watch. Now he could time himself in the sky! Determined to create an official flying machine, Alberto announces the date and location that he intends to use one to take to the sky. But when sneaky Louis Bleriot arrives with the intention of stealing Alberto's thunder, the question of who will go down in the history books is (ha ha) up in the air.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ana Braga-Henebry VINE VOICE on January 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you read this book to your children, or to yourself, skip to author's note right away: there you will understand how the story of the "Father of Flight", as Santos-Dumont is known in Europe and South America, is finally being told to the American children. The familiar anecdote the author tells is so very much the same as our own family anecdote! In our case it is this Brazilian wife, not the husband (in the book's case it was the author's husband) that has exclaimed, again and again, about how wrong Americans are to think the Wright Brothers--of whom I had never heard growing up in Brazil--who take that claim. No! It was Alberto Santos-Dumont, a clever, inventive and fashionable Brazilian living in Paris, who was the first one to build, and take off, and fly, and land, in an aeroplane!! Any child in South America knows that! (The Wrights brothers, I tell my kids, didn't take off--their aeroplane was thrown down a cliff! To what my engineer-minded son retorts, "No, Mom, he was pushed down a ramp". Same thing). I have looked for anything printed for kids in the USA about him and have come up empty handed every time! We have visited his museum in Petropolis, Brazil, as the author surely has, and believe me, it wasn't only the airplane he invented! Kudos to Victoria Griffith for writing this wonderful book and may Santos-Dumont enter the American milieu full-force!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dina Catani on October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A beguiling story which would seem fantastical were it not actually true. Alberto Santos-Dumont was a larger than life character who, it turns out, was the first man to fly an airplane entirely under its own power. Part of what makes his story compelling is that the rigor of his engineering was married to a utopian vision of aviation as a catalyst for the improvement of human society. Griffith's fine telling of his path to fame succeeds both in elucidating the hero's distinctive character and in depicting an age when visions such as his held such power to inspire. His initial exploits using a dirigible to run his errands and enjoy Parisian cafe life are enchanting and hard to imagine, let alone believe. In the afterword detailing his life, it is all confirmed as true. Through her vivid and lively descriptions, Alberto Santos-Dumont and his world come alive. As a read aloud book, it is an interesting tale for young and old alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lorna C on June 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Here in the USA, we have been raised that the Wright brothers invented the airplane. However, in other parts of the world, it was Alberto Santos-Dumont who is credited with the invention of the airplane.

This was an entertaining and beautifully illustrated story about Santos-Dumont's adventure as the first man to take off in a plane using its own power (the Wright Brothers had assistance from others with their take off).

I really liked the mention of Cartier in the story as well.

This was a delightful story that taught my children and me something new.
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By Mymcbooks on March 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My Review: This is an excellent story about Alberto Santos-Dumont who designed, built and flew one of the first practical dirigibles. It was great to know that Alberto went everywhere in his controllable balloon. The author tells how Alberto needed a watch that would help him mark the time that he is in the air as he was unable to do so while his hands were on the controls.

Alberto complained to his good friend Louis Cartier who was an inventor of the pocket watches and jewelry. He told him about the difficulty of checking his pocket watch while flying. So Cartier came up with an alternative that would allow Alberto keep both hands on the controls and check time, he made a watch with a leather band.

Author Griffith did a great job in providing readers with not only the facts about Alberto Santos-Dumont, but also introducing readers to another inventor Louis Cartier and Orville and Wilbur Wright who were credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane.

The author did a great job in connecting the story of Alberto with his love of flying, to needing a watch and his love of hats which he used often to put out flames as his airship float had a tendency of catching on fire.

The beautiful illustrations by Eva Montanari not only tell the story but helps brings the story to life. The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. I highly recommend this book for classroom reading.

Fact: Although Patek Phillipe created the first wristwatch in 1868, Louis Cartier is responsible for helping to popularize it over the traditional pocket watch.

Disclaimer: As per FTC guidelines, I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.
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