Up & Down: The Adventures of John Jeffries, First American To Fly

illus. by Don Brown. 40p. bibliog. notes. Charlesbridge. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580898126.
Gr 1–3—Mentions of ballooning and weather science are somewhat eclipsed by the narrative of John Jeffries's two balloon voyages in this nonfiction picture book. Jeffries, a Bostonian doctor, moved to London after siding with the British during the American Revolution. In the 1780s, experiments with hot air and gas balloons started a balloon craze, and Jeffries, who kept a daily weather diary, saw it as a way to record weather data at different altitudes. After that first science-focused trip, he and his somewhat opportunist partner Jean-Pierre Blanchard set out on a more dangerous journey to become the first balloonists to cross the English Channel. Brown humorously details the ensuing drama as the balloon rises and sinks, and some of the best spreads in the book are of Jeffries and Blanchard unloading all the extraneous equipment to lessen their weight. One last ditch effort leads to an image of two men relieving themselves off the back of the balloon, which is sure to get a giggle out of the intended audience. The prose describes Jeffries's questions about why the balloon rose and sunk that are disappointingly never answered.
VERDICT Light on science, but an entertaining supplemental purchase for elementary nonfiction collections.

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