The most recommended hot air balloons books

Who picked these books? Meet our 16 experts.

16 authors created a book list connected to hot air balloons, and here are their favorite hot air balloon books.
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Book cover of Journey

Talitha Shipman Author Of Finding Beauty

From my list on inspiring childlike wonder for all ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning children's book author-illustrator. I’ve spent the last fifteen years dreaming up stories that I hope will inspire curiosity and wonder in kids of all ages. I’m also a life-long learner! I can’t get enough info about this amazing world we live in. The more I learn, the more I realize that being a noticer, someone who slows down to observe the tiny details around them, will inspire questions and the need to find some surprising and fascinating answers. When my daughter asks a question (and there are many), my mantra has become, “I don’t know, let’s find out!” I hope this list inspires your own adventurous inquiries.

Talitha's book list on inspiring childlike wonder for all ages

Talitha Shipman Why did Talitha love this book?

Wordless picture books are sometimes a bit tricky. How do you “read” them anyways?

But Journey (and its sequels Quest and Return) allow you to dive into the gorgeous artwork and compelling story. Just soak it all in, and you’ll want to set off on your own adventure by the time you're done.

By Aaron Becker,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Be swept away on an elaborate flight of fancy in this Caldecott award-winning, wondrously illustrated picture book about self-determination and unexpected friendship.

The winner of the prestigious Caldecott Honor, and described by the New York Times as 'a masterwork', Aaron Becker's stunning, wordless picture book debut about self-determination and unexpected friendship follows a little girl who draws a magic door on her bedroom wall. Through it she escapes into a world where wonder, adventure and danger abound. Red marker pen in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon and a flying carpet which carry her on a spectacular journey ...…


Book cover of The Land of Yesterday

Ellen Mulholland Author Of This Girl Climbs Trees

From my list on middle grade dealing with death, dying, and grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with life and death. As a child, my own life was fairly mundane and even joyful. However, I went through loss like most. We lost two dogs when I was maybe seven or nine. Then my beagle Suzy, who we had the longest, was struck by a car on a rainy day. A few years later, my grandfather passed from cancer. Watching my mother grieve stuck with me. It shaped me—how I cared about life, how I longed to understand it. Once I decided to write stories for children, I knew it could be a safe place to explore my hidden feelings.

Ellen's book list on middle grade dealing with death, dying, and grief

Ellen Mulholland Why did Ellen love this book?

How do you recover from believing you caused your brother’s death? Cecelia has no idea. When Celadon’s soul drifts into the Land of Yesterday, their entire house goes into mourning. Cecelia must reconcile her feelings before her world collapses and she ends up a lost soul forever, too. Reynolds expertly handles loss and regret in this magical tale for middle grade readers and up.

By K.A. Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Land of Yesterday as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A tender and fantastical adventure story perfect for fans of Coraline.

After Cecelia Dahl’s little brother, Celadon, dies tragically, his soul goes where all souls go: the Land of Yesterday—and Cecelia is left behind in a fractured world without him.

Her beloved house’s spirit is crumbling beyond repair, her father is imprisoned by sorrow, and worst of all, her grief-stricken mother abandons the land of the living to follow Celadon into Yesterday.

It’s up to Cecelia to put her family back together, even if that means venturing into the dark and forbidden Land of Yesterday on her own. But as…


Book cover of King of All Balloons: The Adventurous Life of James Sadler, the First English Aeronaut

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on Oxford and where town meets gown.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a freelance writer for The Oxford Times for 20 years when it was well respected. For ten of those years, I wrote the Oxford Castaway series in which I cast away inspirational people from 5 continents whose lives have been affected by their time in the city. Even Lord Chris Pattern of Barnes – the Chancellor of Oxford University and former Governor of Hong Kong let me cast him away on Oxtopia! Oxford is still divided between Town and Gown but I stride the two and my husband was an academic at that other Oxford University: Oxford Brookes.

Sylvia's book list on Oxford and where town meets gown

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

James Sadler was the first Englishman to fly. He was a brilliant man – his balloon design is the one we still use – but because he was an Oxford pastry cook he was ignored by the university. I am interested in lost and forgotten history and this is a story that needed to be told.

By Mark Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King of All Balloons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The daring flights of the early balloonists that were the first steps on mankind's upward journey to the Moon and beyond have been strangely neglected, and their names have been largely forgotten.

This book helps to redress that situation. James Sadler was an extraordinary English pioneer who overcame many obstacles to achieve his dream of flying. Born the son of an Oxford pastry cook in 1753, he defied his lowly upbringing to become the first Englishman to build an air balloon. When not flying he applied himself to engine design and the medical uses of gases, and kept busy as…


Book cover of Balloonomania Belles: Daredevil Divas Who First Took to the Sky

Deborah Noyes Author Of Lady Icarus: Balloonmania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard

From my list on being lighter than air and above it all.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid student of curious social history, I’ve wanted to tell the story of early flight for a while. A friend once took me up in a hot-air balloon for my birthday, and I’ve been a balloonomaniac ever since. I’ll never forget the awe I felt that morning in Vermont—the sensation of drifting softly above it all, passing spirit-like through orange-pink clouds just after sunrise with the muffled bark of a distant dog the only sound for miles. It was, to quote Sophie Blanchard, a “sensation incomparable.” 

Deborah's book list on being lighter than air and above it all

Deborah Noyes Why did Deborah love this book?

Also a bit gossipy or wink-wink in tone, Wright’s feminist take on early flight is good fun. She narrates the hair-raising adventures of female pioneers of balloon flight—from feisty French teenager Elisabeth Thible, the first woman in the air, to charismatic British actress Leticia Ann Sage, whom one newspaper credited with “that manly fortitude which constitutes the heroine.” Wright presents a memorable cast of women who were all willing and well able—whether for a day or for decades—to brave life in the upper stories. She narrates, too, how they did it despite danger and scandal, at a time when women had few options or outlets for challenging themselves personally or professionally.

By Sharon Wright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Balloonomania Belles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_Balloonomania Belles_ reveals the astonishing stories of the fabulous female pioneers of balloon flight. More than a century before the first aeroplane women were heading for the heavens in crazy, inspired contraptions that could bring death or glory and all too often, both. Award-winning journalist Sharon Wright reveals their hair-raising adventures in a book that brings the stories of the feisty female ballooning heroines together for the first time. Women were in the vanguard of the Balloonomania craze that took hold in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and swept across Europe then the world. Their exploits were a vital element…


Book cover of Around the World in Eighty Days

J.S. Allen Author Of Sauragia

From J.S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Author Linguist Historian Nature lover Individualist

J.S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

J.S. Allen Why did J.S. love this book?

This book, while almost nothing like the movies made in its name, is a fun little adventure story without all the embellishment of Hollywood.

While some might find its pace a little slow and the plot rather simple for modern audiences, its straightforward charm is what makes it such a good read, in my opinion. And that’s not to say it is without its interesting plot twists here and there, but what keeps you on the edge of your seat is less a matter of finding out what will happen than finding out how it will happen.

By Jules Verne,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Around the World in Eighty Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Some novels are considered classics of children literature, read by numerous generations of young readers who made them immortal. That is the case with Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, a true prototype for many later adventure tales. The thrilling race against time of eccentric Phileas Fogg and his manservant Passepartout, having to run around the planet to win a bet, is here presented in a modern and original way, thanks to the splendid drawings by Francesca Rossi, an artist able to capture the vivid atmosphere of the story.


Book cover of Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises

Jack Payton Author Of Billy Balloon

From my list on children’s stories you wish you had written.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote Billy Balloon in fourth grade for a writing exercise. I remember the teacher reading it to the whole class. I was filled with pride. Then through the years I’d revisit the story and think about getting it published. Many years later, with the support and encouragement from my family, I finally decided to go through with it. We then went from wanting to publish one book to building a brand similar to Curious George and Thomas the Train. We had such a great experience and fun time we also decided to share the adventure with others. We invite readers to submit ideas for other books in the Billy Balloon series through our website

Jack's book list on children’s stories you wish you had written

Jack Payton Why did Jack love this book?

This is another impressive and prolific book series.

The magic here is how trains on set tracks on an island can have such big and diverse personalities. Thomas was the little engine trying to do big things.

In a way he is like a little kid growing up and exploring their independence. He tries to show he can do things the bigger trains (or kids) can.

My kids and I had a great time growing up alongside Thomas. My son always carried a small Thomas toy in his pocket.

I would notice he would pat his pocket whenever he needed extra encouragement, for example, at the park among the bigger kids.

By Rev. W. Awdry, Josie Yee (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thomas is going on a special trip to the circus, and there are lots of wonderful things to discover along the way--a beautiful hot air balloon, a playful dolphin, and a barrel of monkeys, just to name a few! Lift and peek behind the many flaps and see the hidden surprises. Preschoolers will want to climb on board with this fun transportation shaped flap book, bursting with treasures on every page!


Book cover of From Above: The Story of Aerial Photography

Jeffrey Milstein Author Of London from the Air

From my list on aerial photography books.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my passions were flying and art. I became a pilot at age 17. Later, I became an architect, and much later, in 2000, I decided to become a fine art photographer. After ten years of shooting from the ground, I decided to take to the air again and began shooting aerial photographs, primarily of cities. I now have three aerial books published: LA NY, Thames & Hudson, Paris From the Air, Rizzoli, and London From the Air, Rizzoli. My aerial photographs are exhibited and collected throughout the world.

Jeffrey's book list on aerial photography books

Jeffrey Milstein Why did Jeffrey love this book?

I like this book because it is a large format, beautifully printed book illustrating the history of aerial photography.

It begins with the earliest Nadar photos taken in France from hot air balloons and chronologically goes through all the different kinds of aerial photography, including satellite images and iconic photographers who shot aerials. It explains the various techniques and ends with photographers who use more recent drone technology.

It exposed me to much history I did not know. 

By Gemma Padley, Eamonn McCabe (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Above as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since the birth of photography, photographers have been taking images of the earth from the air - with spectacular visual results. Celebrating over 150 years of these incredible images, this book tells the fascinating story of how these pictures were created and the photographers that have propelled image-taking to bold new heights.

Taking advantage of the amazing sense of perspective that aerial photography offers, this incredible collection of images also offers a unique overview of the events, challenges, and changes of the past 150 years of human history.


Book cover of The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck

Deborah Noyes Author Of Lady Icarus: Balloonmania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard

From my list on being lighter than air and above it all.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid student of curious social history, I’ve wanted to tell the story of early flight for a while. A friend once took me up in a hot-air balloon for my birthday, and I’ve been a balloonomaniac ever since. I’ll never forget the awe I felt that morning in Vermont—the sensation of drifting softly above it all, passing spirit-like through orange-pink clouds just after sunrise with the muffled bark of a distant dog the only sound for miles. It was, to quote Sophie Blanchard, a “sensation incomparable.” 

Deborah's book list on being lighter than air and above it all

Deborah Noyes Why did Deborah love this book?

Now for something completely different. My own book is for middle-grade readers, so I wanted to include another younger title, and it was perfect timing that this rollicking adventure crossed my path when it did. Hilariously droll, Phelan’s illustrated fiction stars characters lauded for their pivotal role in early flight—the three barnyard aeronauts who made the very first ascent in a hot-air balloon. But their career didn’t end there: the sheep, the rooster, and the duck went on to battle injustice, defeat dastardly villains, and expose nefarious plots against society. Phelan’s extraordinary farm animals are more than fearless aeronauts: they’re covert superheroes in a world of sinister secret societies, Benjamin Franklin, and the world’s first heat-ray. High-flying fun!

By Matt Phelan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“A grand, giddy, and, at times, literally soaring tale.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An amusing, fast-paced tale of land, sky, and spies.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Incredibly creative. . . . A little bit of history, a touch of mystery, and heaps of fun.”—Booklist (starred review)

A Publishers Weekly Best Book

Wherever there is injustice, nefarious plots, or threats to society, the Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck are there to stop them!

A sly villain with a plan to cause havoc across the globe is no match for three extraordinary animals—and their two young human friends. From acclaimed author and artist…


Book cover of One to Watch

Barbara Boehm Miller Author Of When You See Her

From my list on plus-sized protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being overweight presents an intriguing paradox: being physically large and hard to miss, but also being essentially invisible and easy to ignore. Having struggled with weight for my entire life, I’m very familiar with this juxtaposition of opposites. I wanted to write a novel with a plus-sized protagonist set in a different time, the late 1970s in this case, before the notions of size positivity and body diversity had come to life in society’s collective imagination. For me, this was a way of making fat people more visible in books, especially as main characters. I put together this list of books for the same reason. 

Barbara's book list on plus-sized protagonists

Barbara Boehm Miller Why did Barbara love this book?

Bea Schumacher is a plus-sized fashion blogger and outspoken critic of the lack of diverse body types in the media and on the reality dating show, Main Squeeze, in particular.

When she is asked to star on the show and pick the man she wishes to marry, Bea agrees, excited about what this might mean for her career and her love life. 

This book gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at reality television and provides a satisfying answer to what is real and what is staged. I loved how the plot of Main Squeeze and the novel formed co-centric rings and how Bea learns to recognize and use her power in both these arenas.

While romance and insights abound, they are also tempered by laugh-out-loud humor, making this read both enjoyable and thought-provoking.

By Kate Stayman-London,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One to Watch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Real love . . . as seen on TV. A plus-size bachelorette brings a fresh look to a reality show in this razor-sharp, “divinely witty” (Entertainment Weekly) debut.

“Effortlessly fun and clever . . . I found the tension impeccable . . . and that made my reading experience incredibly propulsive. Read it in a day and a half.”—Emily Henry, #1 bestselling author of Beach Read and The People We Meet on Vacation

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time • NPR • Marie Claire • Mashable

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish…


Book cover of Jane Foster's Things That Go

Dan Moren Author Of All Souls Lost

From Dan's 1-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Podcaster Tech journalist Star Wars enthusiast Gentleman thief

Dan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Dan's 1-year-old's favorite books.

Dan Moren Why did Dan's 1-year-old love this book?

With colorful pictures of a number of vehicles (including some unexpected entries like “submarine” and “hot air balloon") and descriptions of the sound they make, my kid is absolutely delighted by this simple but eye-catching board book.

I admit, I may elaborate on some of the sounds (why should a submarine go “blub blub” when you can say “Dive! Dive! Awwooooga”), but sometimes a book is just a canvas for you to get creative.

By Jane Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jane Foster's Things That Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduce little ones to their favorite things that go in this bold and graphic board book by illustrator and textile designer Jane Foster.

In this beautiful and sophisticated board book, children will be introduced to bold images of things that go, such as beeping buses, zooming rockets, and more!

Praise for Jane Foster's ABC and Jane Foster's 123:

"Both titles are stunningly simple, but Foster is able to create some truly arresting images here, making both books pleasurable repeat reads. A fetching and effective introduction to the world of numbers." -starred review, Kirkus Reviews

"It's a book that style-minded parents…