An account of how Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont won the prestigious Deutsch Prize at the turn of the 20th century.
Alberto Santos-Dumont grew up in Brazil, the son of a coffee-plantation owner. As a boy, he “dreamed that one day, he would fly,” and added to this dream was a fascination with machinery. As a young man and going by Santos, he left for France to study science. There, inspired by his first hot air balloon flight, Santos dedicated his life to designing an airship that would be propelled by its own power. Author/illustrator Rob Polivka—whose style is somewhat reminiscent of Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s—provides sketches of the various prototypes as well as scenes of the different flight attempts—illustrating them with a touch of humor—and of Santos’ much admired and written-about life in Paris. When the 100,000-franc Deutsch Prize was announced, challenging members of Paris’ Aero Club to fly from the club to the Eiffel Tower and back (a distance of a little over 7 miles) in 30 minutes, Santos was ready for the challenge. On Oct. 19, 1901, Santos won and so “played his part in the world’s dream of flight.” Although well-known in Brazil and in France, Santos is largely unfamiliar to American audiences, particularly children, making this a good complement to other picture books. Santos is depicted with black hair and olive skin; Paris crowd scenes include a few people of color.
An engaging book about a larger-than-life character. (author’s note, bibliography, fun facts, and a timeline of aeronautics invention) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)