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  • Up & Down: The Adventures of John Jeffries, First American to Fly by Don Brown
  • Elizabeth Bush
Brown, Don Up & Down: The Adventures of John Jeffries, First American to Fly; written and illus. by Don Brown. Charlesbridge, 2018 40p
ISBN 978-1-58089-812-6 $16.99 R Gr. 2–5

A daredevil and a naturalist go up in a balloon . . . it sounds like the start of a joke, but in 1785, pioneering balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and self-exiled American Loyalist John Jeffries attempted and succeeded in the first flight across the English Channel, catching a favorable wind from England to France. The enterprise appeared doomed from the start, when wily Blanchard tried to trick Jeffries out of the flight and grab the glory for himself, but the pair managed to pull together, shedding ballast, equipment, clothing, and, in a scene certain to please readers, their own liquid waste in an effort to keep their hydrogen balloon aloft. This episode has gotten rollicking picture book treatment in Olshan’s A Voyage in the Clouds (BCCB 12/16), and here veteran biographer Brown retains much of the innate humor. He also emphasizes Jeffries’ scientific pursuit of firsthand observations of the atmosphere, contrasting the goals of Blanchard and Jeffries throughout the text and into concluding notes. Brown’s signature pencil and watercolor artwork highlights this strange bedfellow relationship, and the variety of perspectives on the flight from the sky and on ground invite kids to share the amazement (and the giggles at the minimally clad balloonists). A bibliography and quotation sources are also included. [End Page 420]



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