Mini-Reviews: Hot Air Balloons

Mini-Reviews: Hot Air Balloons

minireviews balloons


When I have the choice between reading another book or reviewing the one I have just read, I usually choose to read another one. As much as I adore shouting about books on my blog, reading is, after all, my first love!

Therefore, I have decided to do some mini-review posts to tell you about some other books which I have read and think you might enjoy.

The mini-reviews this time are all themed around hot air balloons and travel, something that I have never tried but always been fascinated by. Have you ever ridden in a hot air balloon? Would you like to?

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Sophie takes to the Sky by Katherine Woodfine and Briony May Smith

Scaredy-Cat Sophie is afraid of everything! So when a balloonist comes to the town fair, Sophie is left behind while everyone else goes to watch him fly in his marvellous balloon. She’s far too frightened of the crowds, the commotion and even riding in a horse-drawn carriage. But if she could just be brave enough to face her fears, who knows where Sophie’s journey might take her …

A reimagining of the childhood of Sophie Blanchard, one of the world’s first female aeronauts.

I wanted to read this as soon as I saw it mentioned by Barrington Stoke, for a few reasons. Firstly, I am always looking for books that we can use in school to launch topics or add some interest, especially when looking at women in STEM subjects. Secondly, I love Briony May Smith’s illustrations (see my review of Stardust here) so I was excited to see those too.

This is a quick, but excellent read looking at Sophie Blanchard, one of the world’s first female aeronauts. It is sure to spark an interest in finding out more about air travel and female inventors!

Read the first chapter here to get a preview of both the text (in Barrington Stoke’s dyslexia-friendly font) and the illustrations.

Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll

An encounter with a boy dangling from the sky changes pickpocket Magpie’s life forever. His family, the Montgolfiers, are desperate to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon – in front of the King and Queen of France.

Emma Carroll just continues to write winner after winner. I was interested to see that the idea for this was actually originally from anotehr person, but it won the Chicken House Books competition to have the idea written by an established author. I hadn’t come across this before but I am glad that Emma Carroll was given the inspiration and let loose on this because it is a rip-roaring adventure with a main character who you cannot help but fall in love with.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss

For out-starting upstarts of all ages, here is a wonderfully wise and blessedly brief graduation speech from the one and only Dr. Seuss. In his inimitable, humorous verse and pictures, he addresses the Great Balancing Act (life itself, and the ups and downs it presents) while encouraging us to find the success that lies within us.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

A modern classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was first published one year before Dr. Seuss’s death at the age of eighty-seven. In a mere fifty-six pages, Dr, Seuss managed to impart a lifetime of wisdom. It is the perfect send-off for children starting out in the maze of life, be they nursery school grads or newly-minted PhD’s. Everyone will find it inspired good fun.

This is one of my all-time favourite books and probably the one I would name if I were ever put on the spot and had to name a favourite book (despite every book-lover knowing that asking a bookworm for a favourite book is like asking you to choose which limb to save or your favourite child!). I had this read to me as a child and still read it to my class every year – once at the beginning of the year and once at the end before I send them off to their new teacher. I love the fact that it has such important messages about making your own choices and persevering with whatever you want to do, but also acknowledges that even if you try your best you’re not 100% guaranteed to succeed. This is even more important in the light of a world that tells children that they can achieve anything, but doesn’t always prepare them for the fact that sometimes factors outside their control might mean that they will not achieve their dreams, or at least not in the original form.

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Be Brave Little One by Marianne Richmond

From the author of If I Could Keep You Little comes Be Brave Little One, which honors and celebrates the power of courage in every child. Perfect for cheering someone on, this story affirms how bravery can show up in all different ways!

When I look at you,
shining bright as the sun,
I wish for you this…
be brave little one!

This is an adorable book with an important message for children. Every year I read my class ‘Oh the Places you’ll go’ by Dr Seuss at the beginning and end of the academic year because I think this message is so vital – it is your choices that make you who you are and you can go anywhere you want to go.

That is not to say that everyone is given the same opportunities or that all dreams may achieved as easily others. However, I do think that it is essential for children to believe in themselves and to learn to pick themselves up after failures.

This book is similar in the message it is sending but may be suitable for younger readers the Dr Seuss book has some quite tough language and concepts which can make it a difficult text. I love both these books and will be using them with my class!

A lot of my friends are having babies at the moment so this would make a lovely Baby Shower present too. 🙂

See my full review, complete with pictures here.

The Great Balloon Hullabaloo by Peter Bently and Mei Matusoka

When Simon the squirrel’s mum sends him off to the shop, Simon decides to fly to the moon in Old Uncle Somerset’s hot air balloon in search of cheese. Shopping in outer space is very exciting, but proves to be a bit of a distraction . . .

I picked this up because of Mei Matsuoka’s tradmeark art style and really enjoyed this irreverent, slightly silly but fun story about Simon the Squirrel who sets off to go to the shops and ends up on an intergalactic adventure. While adults may be less amused, children are sure to find the trip to Uranus to buy toilet roll an absolute hoot!


Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

One night in the reform club, Phileas Fogg bets his companions that he can travel across the globe in just eighty days. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, he immediately sets off for Dover with his astonished valet Passepartout. Passing through exotic lands and dangerous locations, they seize whatever transportation is at hand – whether train or elephant – overcoming set-backs and always racing against the clock. 

I had to include this classic, even if I am unsure how many people still read it nowadays. I read it years and years ago and only remember parts of it, but the intrepid sense of adventure and the wonder of seeing the world in various ways, has always stuck with me.

minireviews balloons

I spotted this trailer recently too and think it looks fantastic, even if I have already heard a few people grumbling that it takes a bit too much artistic license with history! Does it seem like the sort of movie that you would enjoy?

Have you read any of these books?

Would you like to read any of them after reading this post?

Could you recommend any other books featuring hot air balloons?

What are you reading at the moment?

Check out some more mini-reviews themed around Girls in Politics, the Sea , Mermaids , Rescue Dogs , Clockwork , Circuses , Female Pilots,  Greek Mythology or Gaming?

While you’re here, why not check out my reviews of No Ballet Shoes in Syria, The Wise and The Wicked, The Day War Came, The Burning, Perfectly Preventable Deaths, Herstory or Power to the Princess?

Find me on Twitter , Goodreads or Instagram

Thanks for reading!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Love Sky Chasers, and the Great Balloon one looks so cute! X


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