Review: A Dream of Flight by Rob Polivka

A Dream of Flight by Rob Polivka

A Dream of Flight by Rob Polivka and Jef Polivka (9780374306618)

Released on July 30, 2019.

Alberto Santos-Dumont lived in Brazil long before airplanes were invented. Fascinated by machines starting at a young age, Santos came to Paris in 1892. He took a ride with a balloon maker high above the city where they floated in the clouds. Inspired, Santos began to design his own balloon, but he wanted it to move through the air like a ship rather than just floating. He designed one airship after another, learning to follow his own instincts, create structural stability, and built a weight system. Each time he flew, something went wrong, but Santos was not deterred. He just designed a new airship and tried again. A prize of 100,000 francs was announced for the first person who could pilot an airship from the club around the Eiffel Tower and back in less than 30 minutes. Now Santos had a challenge and a prize to win!

Polivka tells the story of Santos with a sprightly tone that is just right for the subject. They share enough details about Paris at the time to firmly anchor the biography in a place and time. The information about the airships is shared with a tone of wonder and also a nod toward the dangers of what Santos was attempting. The art has a vintage feel that works well. It depicts Santos’ little automobile, the view from the balloon over Paris, and the various models of Santos’ airships.

A clever look at flying before airplanes, this picture book biography soars. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 

Review: Harold & Hog Pretend for Real by Dan Santat

Harold & Hog Pretend for Real by Dan Santat

Harold & Hog Pretend for Real by Dan Santat (9781368027168)

Harold and Hog decide to pretend to be Elephant and Piggie in this easy reader that pays homage to the genius of Mo Willems while making something entirely new.  The two characters put on Gerald’s glasses and Piggie’s nose to help them pretend. Harold starts to describe what Piggie is like with Piggie’s carefree exuberance. Harold can’t wait to try to be Gerald with his carefulness too. Harold wants to be careful as he dances, flies and does so many things! Suddenly Harold realizes that he can’t be Gerald and Hog can’t be Piggie, they just can’t pretend that much. Perhaps though there is a solution!

Filled with exactly the right dialogue and humor, this is a very clever take on the classic Elephant and Piggie. The art itself pulls the story far enough away from Elephant and Piggie to make it clear that this is different. Add to that the juxtaposing attitudes of Harold and Hog and you have a set up for pure delight. The book even includes a touch of Pigeon to round it all out.

Smart, funny and just what Mo would want. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.