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.