Lighter than air Sophie Blanchard, the first woman pilot

Matthew Clark Smith

Book - 2017

Shares the life of the first female to work as a professional balloonist, a woman who made more than sixty ascents until her death in an aviation accident in 1819.

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Location Call Number   Status
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Picture books
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press 2017.
Main Author
Matthew Clark Smith (author)
Other Authors
Matt Tavares (illustrator)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 31 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Before Amelia Earhart or Bessie Coleman took to the skies, Sophie Blanchard flew hot-air balloons over mountains and through the clouds, making a name for herself as the world's first female pilot and one of the most daring aeronauts of any gender. As a child in a French village during the eighteenth century, Sophie dreamed of becoming a balloonist, despite the common opinion that women were not fit to fly. She would prove them wrong, eventually marrying daredevil balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who supported Sophie's aspiration. In 1805, Sophie made a solo balloon flight, becoming the first woman to navigate the skies on her own, and forging herself an illustrious and daring aeronautical career. Smith tells Sophie's inspiring story with a buoyant sense of wonder, fitting for a woman who was happiest in the air. Her accomplishments and passion for flight are brought beautifully to life by Tavares' soft ink-and-­watercolor illustrations, which make expressive use of shadow and light, casting brooding clouds over solemn scenes and amplifying joyful moments with blue or golden skies. A concluding author's note offers information on early ballooning, as well as Sophie's tragic death, which isn't mentioned in the main text. Sophie's bravery and commitment to following her heart makes this an uplifting biography that proves the sky's the limit when pursuing one's dreams.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Writing with dry humor and keen attention to detail, Smith (Small Wonders) recounts the story of Sophie Blanchard, whose childhood dreams of flight came to fruition after she grew up and married showman Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a famous balloonist. Tavares (Crossing Niagara) smartly matches the story's emotional highs and lows to a palette of bright lemon yellows, reflecting Sophie's midflight joy, and stormy grays and blues that underscore the danger of the ascents (Jean-Pierre fell from a balloon during one flight, sustaining injuries he eventually died from). Smith and Tavares emphasize Sophie's determination to achieve her dreams; in a closing spread, she soars over a crowd and gazes across a sunlit ocean, a symbolic reflection of not only her successes but those of all trailblazing women who tested convention. Ages 6-9. Illustrator's agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Ever since her youth, Sophie Blanchard (1778-1819) dreamed of flying. After she met and married her husband, the famous balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard, she was able to fulfill this dream. Her daring knew no bounds. Blanchard flew solo over the Alps and became a legend at Napoleon's court. The work ends with her gazing from her balloon at a beach from her childhood and reflecting on her cultural impact: "Now, she realized, she had lifted the spirits of thousands along with her." This amazing tale of the first female pilot is illustrated in ink and watercolor, with the changing sky becoming a character itself. VERDICT A story that needs to be shared. Pair this with Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger's Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman to demonstrate that girls can reach their dreams.-Paula Huddy, The Blake School-Highcroft Campus, Wayzata, MN © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.