I picked up Hot Air: The (Mostly ) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride because I thought the illustrations looked familiar. Ah, yes, of course–Marjorie Priceman! Her artwork really is recognizable! Then, after I peeked inside the book, I almost put it back because it appeared to be a wordless picture book. I find those difficult to share with my girls, so I have to be in just the right frame of mind to bring one of those home. However, then I noticed that this book is a Caldecott Honor book, so I just couldn’t leave it on the shelf. It turns out that it’s not a wordless picture book, although there are several pages that have only pictures, and I am really glad that I brought it home to read to my girls. As the title indicates, this is the story of the world’s first hot air balloon, invented by the Montgolfier brothers in France during the reign of Louis XVI. The story starts out at Versailles and details a test run of this hotair balloon, a demonstration for the king at the request of the Academy of Science. The wordless part comes in next because the first passengers in this balloon were animals–a duck, a sheep, and a rooster. It goes without saying that the girls (and I!) found this quite amusing. Some funny, almost cartoonish things happen to the balloon, and it ends up landing in a forest not far from Versailles. The book ends with “A Brief History of the Montgolfier’s Balloons,” a timeline of sorts that details the progress of their inventions. Of course, the story itself is true, but the amusing things that happen to the balloon and its passengers are all hearsay, passed by word-of-mouth from one animal to another until the author finally heard the story and wrote it down. 😉 (Also, this makes the title of the book very tongue-in-cheek, as I’ve just realized. I’m pretty sure this would be lost on most little kids, but I find it amusing.)
The illustrations are what make this book memorable, as one would expect with a Caldecott Honor book. However, I am glad we read this book for more than just the illustrations. Back last month, we read The Glorious Flight, and I can see that Hot Air would make a good go-along title for that one. Lulu also surprised me with her own connection. When I first read the name of the brothers who invented the hot air balloon–Montgolfier–she gave a little gasp of recognition. I was clueless–how could she possibly know this? It turns out that she and Louise listened to an audiobook of Max & Maddy and the Bursting Balloons Mystery a few weeks ago, and apparently some of the characters in this story have the last name of Montgolfier. That Alexander McCall Smith–he’s clever, isn’t he? 😉 It just goes to show that reading series fiction can serve a real purpose (besides that of entertainment). 🙂
We’ve had a busy week here at the House of Hope, so I’m limiting this Read Aloud Thursday post to only one book this week. Busy or not, I know we’re all still reading, so please link up your post below!
Happy Read Aloud Thursday!