cover image Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot

Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot

Matthew Clark Smith, illus. by Matt Tavares. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7732-9

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.)