The enchanting, vibrant paintings of balloon ships in this book would be perfect for framing even if they weren't also perfectly suited to the text. As depicted by Curlee (who illustrated Dennis Haseley's Horses With Wings, 1993), hot-air balloons that are as lovely as floating Fabergâ€š eggs add a sense of magic to the story of the origins of air travel. More than a hundred years before the Wright brothers and the first airplane took flight, the first hot-air balloon, ""made of silk, lined with paper, and held together with buttons in buttonholes,"" was built in 1793 by two French brothers, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier. Other inventors improved balloon travel; however, as Curlee explains, the ""story of lighter-than-air travel is mainly the story of failures."" The explosion of the Hindenburg, depicted in firework-inspired colors of bright yellow and orange, marked the end of the era of great airships. This brief history of that era delights as well as it informs.