Sophie Takes to the Sky


‘Sophie Takes to the Sky‘ despite her family’s derision at her fears. Sophie is afraid of everything. Even the neighbour’s black cat and the nearby farm dog terrify her. She imagines ghosts in cupboards and hides from thunderstorms. How could Sophie cope with the noise and bustle of a visiting town fair?

Sophie is relieved at first when her family leave her at home in their small village. She agrees the town fair would be too much. However, a highlight of the fair is a hot air balloon. This is the eighteenth century and France is entranced by hot air ballooning. Songs, clothing, accessories and newspapers are full of the latest news and developments. Sophie is enraptured. What if a sudden visit by the black cat next door, an encounter with the farm dog, and thereafter the farmer, might release some spark of confidence? Could it be that Sophie might venture to the fair, alone? Surely she couldn’t step up to a balloon basket, unaccompanied, driven by her fascination? What might happen at that point?

Katherine Woodfine has created a narrative to introduce trailblazing balloonist Sophie Blanchard, imagining her early days and motivation. This Little Gems’ title captivates. Could a scared girl possibly become the first female hot air balloonist, who blazed trails beyond her peers? As with her preceding title Rose’s Dress of Dreams, Katherine Woodfine convinces, informs and entertains. ‘Sophie Takes to the Sky‘ is a satisfying early chapter book, in dyslexia friendly format,  recommended to all readers.

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Sophie Takes to the Sky

Katherine Woodfine, with illustrations by Briony May Smith

(Barrington Stoke Little Gems)

‘Sophie Takes to the Sky‘ although she can hardly believe it. The arrival of a fair in a nearby town delights Sophie’s French village. Sophie’s family is convinced she will not attend for everything seems to frighten her. Furthermore Sophie sees shadows and menace in ‘ghosts that might live in cupboards‘ and ‘thunderstorms and shadows’. Even the next-door black cat and the nearby farm dog frighten Sophie!
Hot air ballooning has captured France’s imagination. France is alight with balloon drawings, poems, songs, designs, clothes and accessories. Everyone wants ‘to see the balloonists‘ as they fly over France. The town fair promises a balloonist, but Sophie is too afraid to attend. Or is she…
What if Sophie’s sky gazing might unlock something within her? An encounter with the black cat, a visit from a neighbour’s dog, and a cart ride kick start an unbelievable day for Sophie. Would it be something that her family would ever believe?
Katherine Woodfine has developed the true story of Sophie Blanchard of Lighter than Air, imagining this trail blazing balloonist’s early years and inspiration. This is a delightful dyslexia friendly production, enhanced by the warm, entrancing pictures of Briony May Smith. ‘Sophie Takes to the Sky’ is a sort of sequel to this writer’s superb Rose’s Dress of Dreams wherein the story of Rose Bertin, couturier to Marie-Antoinette was told.


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