The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffith

Lynn: Excuse me while I hop in my dirigible and zip down to the coffee shop.  This was Alberto Santos-Dumont’s preferred method of getting around Paris and the doormen were used to tying his airship to posts while Alberto shopped or visited with friends.  In the Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont (Abrams 2011) readers will find the uplifting story of this charming Brazilian who many credit with being the first to fly an airplane.  Yes, yes  – we Americans all think it was the Wright Brothers but their flights, which were cloaked in secrecy, were in a plane that needed assistance to get off the ground.  Santos-Dumont was the first to fly an airplane that took off and landed under it’s own power AND he did it in front of nearly a thousand people who had come to watch in 1906.

I loved reading the story of this exuberant flyer and I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of him although he is very famous outside of the U.S.  Eva Montanari’s illustrations are wonderful too, achieving a sense of speed with a slight blurring effect.  The story of another famous invention is told here too but I’ll leave that for Cindy.  Don’t miss the wonderful author’s note that fills out the story of Santos-Dumont along with some terrific vintage photographs.

Cindy: This is a fitting book to blog today as I start our annual 6th grade scientist and inventor research project. The Wright Brothers I know about, but despite spending a lot of time in our science biography reference shelves over the years, I’d never head of Santos-Dumont either. What an intriguing story…and the pastels, chalks, and oil pastel illustrations complement the story nicely. The other invention that Lynn hinted at is the wristwatch! Alberto had complained to his jeweler friend, Louis Cartier, that he could not free up a hand to pull out his pocket watch while flying…so Cartier came up with a version with a leather strap that could be viewed while using the flight controls. The Santos is still one of the best selling Cartier watches. Fascinating!

Sanots-Dumont was sure that the invention of airplanes would bring about world peace as people could easily travel from country to country to learn that we are all very similar. In the author’s note we learn that he was upset that planes were being used for warfare and he took his own life.

I can’t wait to show this picture book biography to my science teacher today. She likes learning something new as much as Lynn and I do.

I’m headed now to Nonfiction Monday host for this week, Lori Calabrese Writes!, for a round up of other nonfiction blog posts for a chance to learn something else new. Please join me!

 

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffith"

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  1. I appreciate this suggestion because it is a topic I am not familiar with and looks like a fascinating read! None of the libraries in my area have it though 🙁

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