Cover image for The amazing air balloon
The amazing air balloon
Van Leeuwen, Jean.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Fogelman Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
In this story based on true events, a thirteen-year-old apprentice takes the first manned hot air balloon flight in America and gains new insight into life's possibilities.
General Note:
Edward Warren was the first person aloft in a balloon in America on June 24, 1784.
Reading Level:
370 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.5 0.5 68166.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.1 2 Quiz: 33311 Guided reading level: M.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Long before the Wright brothers made their famous flight, a young boy from Baltimore became the first person ever to travel by air-in a hot-air balloon. One of the most exciting ways to fly, the air balloon was invented in 1783, although it would take another ten years before a balloon was built that was ready to carry human passengers. Aviation aficionados and indeed all readers will be fascinated by this time before airplanes when an ordinary boy experienced what seemed like an impossible dream-to fly. Jean Van Leeuwen turns this remarkable story into a captivating read and also includes a detailed historical note, while Marco Ventura's lovely oil paintings perfectly evoke eighteenth-century Colonial America.

Author Notes

Jean Van Leeuwen was born in Rutherford, New Jersey on December 26, 1937. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Syracuse University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked in the children's book department of a publisher. She is the author of more than 50 books including Timothy's Flower, Bound for Oregon, and the Oliver and Amanda series.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1^-3. On June 24, 1784, in Baltimore, 13-year-old Edward Warren became the first person in America to go up in a hot-air balloon. In this picture book, Van Leeuwen lets the boy tell his own story, which focuses more on his passion for flight than on the significance of this moment in aviation history. There is, however, still information here: children will learn that tavern-keeper Peter Carnes, who built the balloon, was too heavy to risk going up, which gave daring, young Edward the opportunity to make his dream of flight come true. In an afterword, Van Leeuwen notes that little about Warren is actually known, which may account for the book's rather abrupt ending. Full-page oil paintings are both realistic and solemn as they reflect the colonial times, and two newspaper articles written by Carnes at the time of the actual event appear on the endpapers. Pair this with Anik McGrary's Mouton's Impossible Dream (2000) for an interesting classroom spotlight on early aviation. --Julie Cummins

Publisher's Weekly Review

Van Leeuwen (previously paired with Ventura for The Strange Adventures of Blue Dog) intertwines history and fiction in this breezy chronicle of the first manned hot-air balloon flight in America. Reproduced on the endpapers, a June 25, 1784, newspaper article grounds the story in fact, announcing that the individual who "bravely embarked as a Volunteer on the last Trip into the air, and behaved with the steady Fortitude of an old Voyager" was a 13-year-old lad named Edward Warren. The author, who writes in a concluding note that little else is known about Warren, inventively fills in the blanks. She imagines Warren as an orphan, fascinated by the "great wonder" of an air balloon because, as he puts it, "I was bound to earth. Bound to the hard labor of a blacksmith's apprentice until I was twenty-one." Closely following his neighbor Peter Carnes's experiments with balloons, he is able to attend Carnes's exhibition in nearby Baltimore, where, it is rumored, Carnes will attempt to fly in his craft. When Carnes seems to lose his nerve, Warren volunteers and is soon "floating in the sky like a bird." While the boy's first-person narrative conveys the import of the event and, to a lesser extent, his excitement at participating, it is Ventura's realistic oil paintings that lift up the story. With its careful period detail, the art effectively sweeps readers back to a dramatically different time. Ages 5-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-Beginning with the endpapers (replicas of 1784 advertisements for a hot-air-balloon exhibition and the newspaper account of its success), Van Leeuwen sets the stage for this tale told through the eyes of 13-year-old Edward Warren, the first person in America to ascend in a balloon. An author's note explains that although the events themselves are factual and Warren's trip aloft has been documented, not much is known about this brave young orphaned apprentice who volunteered to take the first experimental ride. This appealing narrative weaves the established facts with imaginative details of his life. Ventura's oil paintings capture the flavor of the times with crowd scenes that resemble the foreshortened, stiffly posed figures of Colonial times. They alternate with beautifully detailed, realistic renderings of the main characters. Not only will this picture book stir readers' interest in this particular balloon flight, but it will also attract the attention of students studying the time period or learning about the history of aviation. Anik McGrory's Mouton's Impossible Dream (Harcourt, 2000) describes the original launching in France the year before Warren's adventure, but it is told through the eyes of a stowaway sheep and appeals to a younger audience.-Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.