Taidgh's Reviews > The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont

The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffith
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Jan 06, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads
Read from November 30 to December 18, 2011

*I received a copy of this book as a part of the First Reads programme*

I'm a big fan of illustrated books and I know illustrated non-fiction isn't widely published, so when I saw this book I was quite excited. It's a sturdy hardcover with a dust jacket. It's also well bound. Important if you have children that want to pick it up and read it on their own. You don't have to take extra care with it.

The illustrations are wonderful and are on the front and back cover, and pretty much fill every page in the book. The glossy paper helps draw out the predominant colours - blues and greens. Also the lines portray movement and excitement. The illustrations aren't cartoons they're vivid paint-like, pastel sketches(I could be wrong here) which complement the story.

The story is about Alberto Santos-Dumas and his eccentric behaviour, meeting with his friend and the story of his passion to fly. I have to agree with Jessica Bustard here. The book starts to wobble a bit as the narrative isn't so clear. I realise that it could be classified as a biography maybe that's why it seems a little unfocused. Is the story about the watch, flying, his love of hats? It could have been just a little clearer and the story telling could have been tightened up a bit. The narrative structure is just not as defined as I liked, or am familiar with when it comes to illustrated books.

I can't decide what age this book is for as I read it with a six year old boy, that I tutor, who loves cars and planes. He liked the drawings, but it was very wordy for him, I had to do some explaining and shortening. The word dirigible was wisely skipped.

I won't get into the facts of the story some people seem to be concerned with the facts, mainly the wrist-watch. There's a nice section at the back of the book with a few photographs and some interesting facts about Alberto Santos-Dumont. Though, I was a little taken back by the fact that he committed suicide. Not something that I disclosed to the six year old boy as his mother would be fuming and it wouldn't be wise to tell him.

To sum it up this book is well made, has a sturdy hardcover, is beautifully illustrated with vivid colours and an interesting story. However, it is not your run of the mill book and cannot be compared with your average illustrated children's book. This is something different (nothing wrong with different) it's not only for children but for adults as well. It introduced me to a story in history that I wasn't familiar with - a good thing. Four stars for me.
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12/18/2011 page 32
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