The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffith, illustrated by Eva Montanari, 2011 Abram Books for Young Readers.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I found this title as I perused the new non-fiction books at Main Library last night. I have mentioned Alberto Santos-Dumont before on my blog.
If you read this book to your children, or to yourself, skip to author's note right away: there you will understand how the story of the "Father of Flight", as Santos-Dumont is known in Europe and South America, is finally being told to the American children. The familiar anecdote the author tells is so very much the same as our own family anecdote! In our case it is this Brazilian wife, not the husband (in the book's case it was the author's husband) that has exclaimed, again and again, about how wrong Americans are to think the Wright Brothers--of whom I had never heard growing up in Brazil--who take that claim. No! It was Alberto Santos-Dumont, a clever, inventive and fashionable Brazilian living in Paris, who was the first one to build, and take off, and fly, and land, in an aeroplane!! Why, any child in South American knows that! (The Wrights brothers, I tell my kids, didn't take off--their aeroplane was thrown down a cliff! To what my engineer-minded son retorts, "No, Mom, he was pushed down a ramp". Same thing). I have looked for anything printed for kids in the USA about him and have come up empty handed every time! We have visited his museum in Petropolis, Brazil, as the author surely has, and believe me, it wasn't only the airplane he invented! Kudos to Victoria Griffith for writing this wonderful book and may Santos-Dumont enter the American milieu full-force!