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Lighter than air : Sophie Blanchard, the first woman pilot
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Author Biography

Matthew Clark Smith has a master’s degree in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives in Jackson, Mississippi.

Matt Tavares has written and illustrated many books for children, including Crossing Niagara, Zachary's Ball, Oliver's Game, Mudball, Henry Aaron's Dream, There Goes Ted Williams, Becoming Babe Ruth, and Growing Up Pedro. He is also the illustrator of Alicia Potter’s Jubilee!, Doreen Rappaport’s Lady Liberty, and Kristin Kladstrup’s The Gingerbread Pirates. He lives in Ogunquit, Maine. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Booklist Reviews

*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. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

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 2017 Publisher Weekly.

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