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HOT AIR by Marjorie Priceman Kirkus Star


The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride

by Marjorie Priceman & illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: July 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-82642-7
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

On September 19, 1783, thousands of people visited Versailles to witness the launching of the Montgolfier brothers’ new-fangled hot-air balloon. “Ballooning’s first brave passengers,” as it turns out, were a duck, a sheep and a rooster. Priceman sets the stage for this historic event in the funniest, breeziest way imaginable, imploring readers to pay no mind to the hows and whys but instead to focus on the brave passengers, hilariously depicted as bug-eyed with fear, shown from above as the balloon goes up, up and away. From here on out, the book is almost wordless, presenting the trembling trio in comic strip–like panels as the barnyard animals become entangled in flyaway laundry and encounter various dangerously pointy objects, from a boy’s mischievous arrow (it proves helpful later) to a church spire (softened by an aforementioned sock) to the sharp-beaked bird who ultimately sends them spiraling. Priceman’s wonderful, vivacious black-ink and watercolor paintings—packed with comical details—add motion and buoyancy to an already soaring tale of a historic hot-air balloon ride. (author’s note, brief history of Montgolfier’s balloons) (Picture book. 4-8)