In oversized picture book format (9fl x 11(apple)) but designated by the publishers for eight-year-olds and up, this Belgian import (and its companion below), combining comic-style strips with a line or a few of text under each cartoon frame, might have trouble finding its audience here. But it might lure kids from the TV set, even though five-year-old listeners and eight-year-old readers (our estimated range) won't catch the names of professor-turned balloonist Aristotle Pilaster, his dog Plato and his navigator/cook Charles Montgolfier-Escoffier--any more than they did all the puns in Bullwinkle. This isn't as clever, but you'll recognize the tone of the narration and the absurdity of the mishaps as ""our heros"" race from France to the Great Pyramid of Egypt as one by one all rival balloons are ludicrously eliminated--scheming arch-villain Count Pommodoro at the very end, when the winners celebrate ""on top of old Cheops."" And kids are sure to pick up on the business with Plato, who necessitates frequent stops. . . until, in Greece, Charles chops down an olive tree and takes it along for the dog. Silly, but fun.