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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Rene Guillot
Age Range: 9-11
Fifteen-year-old Pascal from Paris, is spending his holidays with his absent-minded inventor grandfather at the old manor house in Merignac. He has taken his pet parrot Coco and Philibert, a tame crow that Pascal uses to send and receive messages.
Grandfather is president of La Nacelle an Amateur Balloon Club. Pascal is something of an inventor himself having made a small model of a balloon which works with firework rockets. When he shows his model to his grandad, he is very impressed and it gives him the idea of constructing a larger version – a real flying balloon using the same method.
That’s when the real adventure (and misadventures) begin for grandfather, Pascal, Philibert and Coco as they go on a tour of France in a balloon. As well as being an exciting journey they also have to overcome various obstacles along the way including the malevolent intervention of Professor Marioli, vice-president of La Nacelle and eaten up with jealousy by the success of grandfather’s invention.
This exciting adventure novel is likely to appeal to children age 9-11+, even though the main protagonist of the story is aged fifteen.
French author Renč Guillot (1900-1969) was a master of the adventure genre and most of his novels have a lot of action and thrilling explorations that are set in unusual places. He received the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1964. Anne Carter’s translation flows effortlessly and David Knight’s lively black and white illustrations throughout the book show characters full of expression and also the depiction of the various episodes are perfectly represented. Other Guillot titles on the website include: Elephant Road (1959), Nicolette and the Mill (1960), Mokokambo, the Lost Land (1961), Three Girls and a Secret (1964) and Tipiti, the Robin (1968).