The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot

11May10

By Alice and Martin Provensen

Clacketa, Clacketa, CLACKETA! CLACKETA! CLACKETA!

The Glorious Flight tells the true of a French man named Louis Bleriot who longed for flight and had many attempts at creating a flying device in the beginning of the 20th century.  The remarkable thing about Louis Bleriot is his boldness at a time when being bold was particularly notable. He had already made his fortune, but still wanted to make his mark on the world of aviation. Always one for adventure, Bleriot takes on the challenge of flying his craft across the English Channel, and it succeeding is the first person to do so.

The Provensen’s use of short, commentary-like sentences (All is in readiness., Away roars the motorboat., Only one thing remains.) and exclamations (Alas!, Not so bad!, A wonderful moment!, As usual!) take the reader through the evolution of Bleriot’s attempt at flight play-by-play, much like a sportscaster commenting on a game. The descriptions of his different flying contraptions attempts at becoming air bound contrast birds of great beauty with flightless creatures. Bleriot’s goal is to “fly through the air like swallows”  or glide like “a great swan”, but instead only instead “flaps like a chicken” or “hops over the ground like a rabbit”

The Glorious Flight won the 1984 Caldecott Medal for its illustrations. The illustrations are folk-like with their flat dimensions and stylized human features. Although not lacking in texture and visual detail, the flatness of the illustrations gives them snap-shot feel, reminding the reading that they are catching glimpses of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of Bleriot’s quest for flight.

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