The First Air Voyage in the United States: The Story of Jean-Pierre Blanchard

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Jean-Pierre Blanchard made The First Air Voyage in the US in 1793, when he ballooned from Philadelphia (PA) to Gloucester (NJ). In his pocket was America's first airmail letter, written [would you have guessed?] by George Washington! It seems that M. Blanchard spoke little English and needed a letter of introduction to whomever he met wherever he landed. And the president obliged! As author/artist Alexandra Wallner notes in her charming, slightly fictionalized account of the pioneer balloonist's aeronautical exploits.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3On January 9, 1793, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, accompanied by a dog, made the first hot-air balloon flight in America, from Philadelphia to Woodbury, NJ. Along the way, he carried out several scientific experiments. Drawing heavily on The First Air Voyage in America (Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1943; o.p.), this is a simple but lively account of the adventure, illustrated with charming, cartoonlike paintings that evoke the times. Wallner also briefly chronicles Blanchard's earlier European flights. This book would fit comfortably with titles such as Chris Demarest's Lindbergh (Crown, 1993) and the Provensens' The Glorious Flight (Viking, 1983). However, Wallner's version of the event includes a number of little discrepancies. The colors of the balloon and basket differ from press accounts, and the vignette of the dog nearly falling out of the basket seems to be invented. Also, while it is likely that future presidents Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe saw the lift-off, it is not known whether all were present in the prison yard from which the balloon took off. Finally, while Dolly Madison may have been there as well, in January, 1793, she was Dolly Todd; her marriage to Madison took place in 1794. While these inaccuracies are annoying, it is good that Wallner has seen fit to resurrect a nearly forgotten bit of aviation history. One hopes that readers will be inspired to look for further information on Blanchard and his remarkable accomplishments.Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A charming book biography, subtitled "The Story of Jean- Pierre Blanchard," about an early aeronaut and his 1793 balloon trip across New Jersey, as he might have narrated it. His first- person account parallels events shown in one or more pictures per spread, in which characters in 18th-century dress against 18th- century backdrops cheer Blanchard on, comment on his travails, or provide additional information in speech bubbles. Most of their chatter appears in French (with minor misspellings) and German, but the phrases are simple and there's a glossary in the back. Pale colors predominate, contrasting in many scenes with the bold stripes of the balloon. In few pages and relatively few words, Wallner (Beatrix Potter, 1995, etc.) conveys plenty of information about Blanchard and his preferred means of transport.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823412242
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.39 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 0.36 (d)

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