By: Buffy Silverman
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: January 2013
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2013
You can watch as hot air balloons go up into the sky. Hot air makes them rise because “hot air is lighter than cool air.” The hot air pushes the balloon up into the sky. The envelope is the big cloth that you see that shapes the balloon. Underneath that balloon the “pilot turns on a burner.” The flames shoot up under the skirt which is made of a “fabric that will not burn.” You can see the pilot watching the flames as they heat the air that will lift the balloon. The envelope’s fabric is very strong and will not tear. It has to hold a lot of hot air to rise high in the sky, especially if there are a lot of people in the basket.
Usually a basket will hold three to five people, but the “large baskets hold fifteen people or more.” They also hold the fuel tanks. You can see a pilot turning “a knob called a valve to let more fuel flow to the burner.” More fuel will make the flames grow larger and the balloon will rise faster. If a pilot wants the balloon to go slower he will pull a cord that releases air from a vent. When the vent is open, “the air makes the balloon heavier” and it heads toward the ground. You’ll also learn how the pilot controls a balloon, why they get a weather report, what an altimeter is and what it is for, how the pilot keeps in touch with the ground, how they prepare to land, and you’ll learn many other interesting things about hot air balloons.
This is a fascinating book about hot air balloons young students will love. The layout of the book is quite vibrant with full-color photographs that demonstrate the parts of a balloon, how the pilot maneuvers it, to a crew packing it up. The captions offer additional information to the reader. For example, one helps students understand the flight of a hot air balloon by discussing dandelion seeds: “Have you ever seen dandelion seeds blow? Hot air balloons float the same way.” Newly independent readers can tackle this high interest, beginning nonfiction chapter book with a minimum of assistance. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, some fun facts, a diagram of the parts of a hot air balloon, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are free, complementary educational resources on the publisher’s website.
Quill says: The “How Flight Works” series is an excellent series that curious beginning nonfiction readers will devour!