Who was the first person to fly an airplane? This book profiles Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian contender. It’s a charming story of sophisticated Parisian life in 1903, despite clunky invented dialogue and an awkward shift in point of view in the middle of the book.

Louis BlĂ©riot, the hero of Alice and Martin Provensen’s Caldecott winner The Glorious Flight, appears here in a less-than-glorious light. Reading the two books together could lead to a fascinating discussion about the different perspectives writers bring to their subjects. Which also makes it a great Common Core pairing for fourth graders, who are supposed to integrate information from two texts on the same topic.

Don’t miss Griffith’s fantastic author’s note at the end. It has it all-how she got interested in the story, more details about events in the story, what happened next, and a discussion of Santos-Dumont’s legacy in the worlds of flight and fashion.

The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffiths. Abrams: 2011.