The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck by Matt Phelan

Published by Greenwillow Books

Summary:  Bernadette the sheep, Pierre the rooster, and Jean-Luc the duck are based on the real animals that piloted the first hot-air balloon in 1783.  Among those in attendance were King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Benjamin Franklin.  This story takes place after that flight, when Emile, a young boy who works as a servant for Franklin, discovers the sheep, the rooster, and the duck and a girl named Sophie.  The four of them have become balloon experts, and their knowledge comes in handy when Franklin is kidnapped by Count Cagliostro.  They thwart Cagliostro’s plot to launch a war between England and France and take over the government of the newly-formed United States.  Includes an author’s note with historical information.  221 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  This engaging historical fiction story is told with both text and several sections of comic-style illustrations.  Kids will love the brilliant animals and cheer on Sophie and Emile as they work together to foil the evil schemers of 18th century France.  

Cons:  Readers may find the large number of characters and historical events at the beginning of the book confusing.

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