Lady Icarus Balloonmania and the brief, bold life of sophie blanchard

Deborah Noyes

Book - 2022

"A riveting middle-grade biography about Sophie Blanchard, the first woman to work as a professional aeronaut in France in the late 1700s, set against the thrilling backdrop of early flight. Before Amelia Earhart, there was Sophie Blanchard, the first woman to earn her living in the air. While no one knows the fate of Earhart, a terrified crowd of thousands looked on as French aeronaut Sophie Blanchard met her end in a tragic blaze of glory over the streets of Paris in 1819. But first, Blan...chard made nearly 70 spectacular flights, survived a revolution, and become a court favorite of the emperor Napoleon (who gave her the title, Aeronaut of the Official Festivals) and later of the King of France. Set against the backdrop of the history of flight, watch as Balloonmania-- a phenomenon that riveted all of Europe-- took hold and inspired a great many artists authors, and dreamers. This lively scrapbook-style biography with more than fifty black-and-white photos throughout, introduces a frightened, nervous girl who became a fearless legend in the skies."-- Amazon.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j629.13092/Noyes Checked In
New York : Random House Studio 2022.
First edition
Physical Description
xi,176 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Deborah Noyes (author)
  • A mysterious stranger
  • The race is on
  • Much astonished
  • Wide-open sky
  • Perfect bliss
  • The naked aeronaut
  • Castles and arias in the air
  • A perilous crossing
  • However dangerous or difficult
  • Revolution!
  • Star-spangled voyager
  • A new emperor and the first family of the clouds
  • Incomparable sensation!
  • Storms and tempests
  • Senister presentiments
Review by Booklist Review

On the subject of female aeronautical pioneers, Amelia Earhart rightfully gets heaps of recognition, but over a century earlier, Sophie Blanchard also made her way in the world as a renowned pilot--of a hot-air balloon! This book takes a deep dive into ballooning history, giving it detailed context and pointing to political and social woes of the 1800s that made the fantastical world of flight an appealing distraction. Blanchard finally comes on the scene after wedding an established balloonist, quickly becoming an indispensable copilot and eventually taking solo trips when few females were given the opportunity. Her career blossomed after her husband's death, and she found herself appointed Napoleon's Aeronaut of the Official Festivals, putting on nightly high-flying pyrotechnic shows in full costume. It's a fascinating and comprehensive early account of ballooning, though it takes more than half of the book to dive into Blanchard's experiences in detail. Still, in this incredibly rich history, full of illuminating antique illustrations and entertaining tidbits, the author's affection for the subject is obvious.

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

This eye-opening account with more than 50 b&w photographs unveils the "life and times" of Sophie Blanchard (1778--1819), "a shy daughter of peasants" who would become "the world's first professional woman pilot." Recounting both the highs of Blanchard's life--joy in flying solo, and appointment as "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals" by Napoléon--and the lows, including her mentor-husband's death and her own fiery final flight, Noyes dramatically relays information in dialogue-studded text. Inset boxes provide historical, social, and political context, such as natural phenomena and the concepts behind air ballooning. Noyes adopts a dramatic tone to relay a well-rounded portrayal of one of the earliest female fliers, against the absorbing, painstakingly sketched background of the period's balloonmania. Back matter includes an afterword, timeline, and bibliography. Ages 8--12. (Mar.)

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