Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman

PreSchool-Grade 3-Inventive illustrations depict the true story of the duck, sheep, and rooster that were "ballooning's first brave passengers" when the Montgolfiers tested their hot-air balloon in 1783. The first three spreads set the stage with lively conversational descriptions of the scene before the balloon takes off. A dramatic shift on the fourth page turn reveals the befuddled animal passengers as they ascend. Most of the remaining text is wordless, with occasional "quacks," "baas," and "cock-a-doodle-doos." With vibrant colors and varied use of panels, full-page illustrations, and spreads, Priceman paces the tale perfectly. An early four-panel scene showing the balloon at various heights while the animals try to figure out what's going on is priceless. So is the spread in which all three become attached to windblown laundry. The voyagers' progress is easy to follow, and events along the way are delightfully rendered. A time line on the endpapers fills in some of the historical data, but this "(mostly) true" version (which the author "heard…from a duck, who heard it from a sheep, who heard it from a rooster a long, long time ago") is just the way it should have happened. Sarah Wilson's Three in a Balloon (Scholastic, 1990; o.p.) covers the same event nicely, but this intriguing historical episode stands up to varied presentations, as Priceman's dynamic visual storytelling ably demonstrates.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
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Classroom Implications: Nonfiction meets fiction in this book. Historical data is paired with imaginative illustrations and wordless pages to provoke thought, predictions and inferences around the nonfiction. A non-traditional historical nonfiction text, this book blends nicely into a library that includes a section on flight.

Skills and Strategies
  • Nonfiction reading
  • Questioning
  • Inferences

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