In this nonfiction book for children ages 6 and up, photographs depict the colors, shapes, gear, pilots, and crews of hot air balloons.
The Pechters (What’s in the Deep?: An Underwater Adventure for Children, 1991), photojournalists who have also covered the undersea world, turn to the air in this volume. Documenting every step along the way with many vivid photos, the book explains everything about hot air ballooning for kids, beginning with the system and its parts (envelope, basket or gondola, and burner, together with gear and instruments); readying the ground; safety checks; inflating the balloon; piloting difficulties; safety issues; landing; and packing back up. Readers learn details, such as the best times to fly and the importance of a chase crew, plus odd facts: “The average balloon is as tall as a 7-story building.” The authors nicely convey the excitement of ballooning for spectators, as the envelopes slowly fill and the baskets at last begin to rise, as well as fans’ enthusiasm for the sport: “At the balloon field, people collect pins, badges, balloon cards, and autographs of the pilots and officials. It is always fun to start or add to your own collection.” Tips on taking better photos of balloons are included as well as information on becoming a pilot. The Pechters’ gorgeous photos of huge, brightly colored balloons, sometimes en masse like a giant party in the sky, are greatly appealing. Some balloon photography focuses almost entirely on the striking envelopes, typically a shot of a lone specimen against an empty landscape. In contrast, the Pechters’ photos tell the whole story, showing how many people are actually involved in getting balloons safely off the ground and back down, plus the subculture of fans and onlookers. Though they certainly get across the magic of hot air ballooning, the authors also provide plenty of practical tidbits (“It could cost $35,000 or more to buy your own new balloon”) and reminders about safety (“the balloon should not land on a highway, home, or in a business area”).
Packed with vibrant photos and solid information, this work delivers an enthralling introduction to ballooning for kids.