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A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785

By: Matthew Olshan

Illustrator: Sophie Blackall

A hilarious fictionalized retelling of the first international flight, which happened in a balloon. Author's note. Full-color illustrations.

ISBN: 9780374329549

JLG Release: Feb 2017


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: John Jeffries (1745–1819) , Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753–1809) , Balloon ascensions , Transportation , Aviation , Historical exploration and discovery , Biography and autobiography

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Awards & Honors

The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016
New York Public Library 2016 Best Books for Kids, Picture Books
ALSC Notable Children’s Books 2017, Middle Readers

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books*, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine*, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
One remarkable milestone on the path to flight was the first manned balloon trip, which occurred in 1783. Up to that point, no one had accomplished a trip between countries, so Dr. John Jeffries (English) and Jean-Pierre Blanchard (French) decided to be the first. Jeffries and Blanchard allowed their competitive spirit t
[STARRED REVIEW]
One remarkable milestone on the path to flight was the first manned balloon trip, which occurred in 1783. Up to that point, no one had accomplished a trip between countries, so Dr. John Jeffries (English) and Jean-Pierre Blanchard (French) decided to be the first. Jeffries and Blanchard allowed their competitive spirit to come between them until the trip had a few precarious moments; once they faced possible disaster, they quickly began working as a team to successfully cross the English Channel into France. The illustrations vary from traditional to graphic novel—style at points, using panels and dialogue balloons. Olshan establishes suspense as the two encounter problems and danger during their voyage, and children will want to keep reading and learning more about this historic trip. An author’s note discusses the true details incorporated in the story and explains the creative license taken. VERDICT A delightful tale that will captivate elementary students with comedy, suspense, and beautiful illustrations.—April Sanders, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
Olshan and Blackall (The Mighty Lalouche, rev. 5/13) present another quirky account of lesser-known history. In the year 1785 “it seemed that everyone was flying,” including “an Italian . . . a Scot . . . a woman . . . even a sheep.” Dr. John Jeffries (born in Boston but considering himsel
[STARRED REVIEW]
Olshan and Blackall (The Mighty Lalouche, rev. 5/13) present another quirky account of lesser-known history. In the year 1785 “it seemed that everyone was flying,” including “an Italian . . . a Scot . . . a woman . . . even a sheep.” Dr. John Jeffries (born in Boston but considering himself an Englishman) and Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard were determined to be the first to complete an international flight by crossing the English Channel in a hot-air balloon. The greatest challenge, as it turns out, was not the trip itself but the duo’s cantankerous relationship. Verbal jabs (“You, monsieur, are no gentleman”), personal slights (intentionally taking off before Jeffries delivers his farewell speech), and sneaky tricks (the wearing of a lead vest to throw off cargo weight) are plenty and humorous. The voyage (apart from the pair’s frequent arguments) is going well…until the balloon overinflates, at which point Jeffries intervenes, causing the craft to dangerously descend toward the sea below. Jeffries and Blanchard work together to send sandbags, a violin, flags, and the pair’s clothing (excluding underwear) overboard to lighten the load. They even pee (“every little bit helps”). Blackall’s witty illustrations— which include full-page art and double-page spreads in color along with occasional black-and-white comic-panel strips; word balloons; and florid ornamentation— feel plucked from the time period. An author’s note directs readers to Dr. Jeffries’s firsthand account of the flight and reveals that portions of the book rely on Olshan and Blackall’s creative adaptation of factual events. patrick gall

Book Details

ISBN

9780374329549

First Release

February 2017

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/2" x 11"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

Level 3.4; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

John Jeffries (1745–1819), Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753–1809), Balloon ascensions, Transportation, Aviation, Historical exploration and discovery, Biography and autobiography,

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