The Glorious Flight:
Across the Channel With Louis Blériot
Written and Illustrated
by Alice and Martin Provensen (Penguin, 1983)
Take students back
in time with this fascinating look at a moment in aviation history. The
story tells of Louis Blériot, whose self-built plane sputtered into action
at 4:35 A.M. on July 25, 1909, taking him from the coast of France out
over the English Channel. Thirty-seven minutes later, he landed in England,
making history as the first person to cross water by air.
An Inside Look
Caldecott acceptance speech for The Glorious Flight, the Provensens
said they "wanted to capture for children some of the incredible daring
of the first days of flying when men in fragile boxes made of sticks and
wire and linen lurched off cow pastures all over the world." Their fascination
for planes shines through in their simple but spirited illustrations.
From a plane that "flaps like a chicken" to one that "like a great swan.
. .rises into the air" (only to crash into the river), the Provensens
capture Louis Blériot's passion, determination, and triumph.
An Art Lesson
As children look at
the pictures in The Glorious Flight, ask: "What kinds of clues
tell you when this story took place?" Talk
about the ways details help set the scene for the story. For example,
the illustrators needed to know how people dressed during this time, what
kinds of transportation existed, what the streets and shops looked like,
and so on. Explain that including accurate details makes the story more
realistic and believable.
Follow up by inviting
children to paint or draw pictures that could be the setting for a story
set in their own time and place. Use these questions to guide children
in including details that will help them create believable pictures that
accurately reflect the time.
Clothing: What kinds of clothes do the children wear? The grown-ups?
2. Transportation: In The Glorious Flight,
the illustrators picture cars and carriages that are true to the time.
What methods of transportation represent the ways we travel around town?
(Guide children to understand that over time, transportation has changed.
To illustrate this point, ask children to compare cars in the story with
3. Streets and Shops: The narrow shop-filled
streets in The Glorious Flight represent those of the early 1900s
in a French city. How would children picture the streets where their families
Building on Books
of Discovery: The Story of Flight (Scholastic, 1995). Though the text
in this book may be too advanced for many young readers, the interactive
pages will hold their interest. See-through, fold-out, flap, and other
special pages will inspire their creativity. Use the book as a model for
students' own interactive books about flight. How Do Airplanes Fly?
(Scholastic, 1997) offers an on-level look at the science of flight and
includes three model airplanes to fly.
LANGUAGE ARTS LINKS
Factually accurate, The
Glorious Flight is also full of fun. The Blériot I "flaps like a chicken."
Another plane hops like a rabbit. There are "slight crashes," but Papa holds
on to his humor - and his determination. After sharing the story, talk with
students about Papa's perseverance. Guide children in making connections
between themselves and Papa - and in building the self-esteem that will
help them work hard to accomplish their goals.
- Why do you think it took Papa so many tries to build a flying machine
- What do you think kept Papa from getting discouraged? (Help children
recognize his sense of humor, as well as other positive traits.)
- How do you think Papa felt when he and his plane landed in England?
- What is something you have worked hard at? What helped you want to
try, even though it was hard?
Word Watch: BIG
As you reread the
story, point out these words to children. Ask: "Why do you think some
of the words are printed in capital letters?" Let them take turns rereading
these lines using their voices to make the words "big." Encourage children
to recognize that by making the letters big, the authors help us "hear"
the loudness of the plane. Ask: "What are other reasons an author might
use capital letters for some words?" (for example, to show feelings such
as anger and surprise) Encourage children to be on the lookout for "big"
words in other stories they read.
The ABCs of Flying
airplanes by making a collaborative ABC book of flight. Start by sharing
Let's Fly from A to Z by Doug Magee and Robert Newman (Cobblehill,
1992), an ABC book of people, places, and things that have to do with
flying. Begin by brainstorming some words together. Record suggestions
in any order they are offered. (Don't worry at this point if the suggestions
are not in ABC order.) Invite each child to choose one letter and create
a page in the book for it. Children can use items already recorded or
come up with their own.
Line of Flight
Invite your students
to learn more about the history of flight by asking them to bring in pictures
and models of flying things as well as toy planes, helicopters, and so
on. Together, make a time line, placing the pictures and objects in the
order students think they were invented. Adjust the time line after researching
the items. Which was the first to fly?
Science: Make it
the science of flight with paper airplanes. Begin by making basic square
planes (see illustration). Have students take turns launching their planes,
recording observations on flight logs. Compare flight times with the world
record: 18.8 seconds set by Ken Blackburn in 1994.
Follow up by discussing
the forces that keep the planes in the air. In The World Record Paper
Airplane Book (Workman, 1994), Ken Blackburn likens weight and lift
to a game of tug-of-war. Weight is the downward pull (gravity),
lift the upward. Air resistance causes drag, or backward
pull. Thrust pushes a plane forward. (Your arm provides the thrust
for a paper airplane.)
We're Pioneers, Too!
History is filled with
pioneers some known, others (like Blériot) less known. In them,
we can see what the pioneering spirit is all about a sense of adventure,
a risk taken.
Take a look at ways
students' everyday achievements are like those of Louis Blériot and other
history-making pioneers. Ask: "How is trying something new or going someplace
you've never been before like being a pioneer?" Invite children to draw
pictures of or write about milestones that represent their pioneer spirit
such as reading a book for the first time. Create a display featuring
your young pioneers' firsts.