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Airbornby Kenneth Oppel
Synopses & Reviews
Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow's nest, being the ship's eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there'd been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud. . . .
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt's always wanted; convinced he's lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist's granddaughter that he realizes that the man's ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.
In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.
"In crisp, precise prose that gracefully conveys a wealth of detail, Oppel (the Silverwing Saga) imagines an alternate past where zeppelins crowd the skies over the Atlanticus and the Pacificus, and luxury liners travel the air rather than the sea (references to films by the Lumiere 'triplets' and various fashions suggest a very early 20th-century setting). Young Matt Cruse works aboard the elegant passenger airship Aurora, where his late father also worked. In an exciting opening sequence, Matt rescues an injured old man flying solo in a stranded hot air balloon; the man later dies, but not before telling Matt of 'beautiful creatures' that he saw sailing through the air. Matt's curiosity about the man's dying words is piqued a year later when the fellow's granddaughter Kate arrives on board, bearing his journal. As other plot lines develop, pirates attack the Aurora, which crash-lands on an island that closely resembles a drawing in the old man's journal. There are minor, pleasing shades of the film Titanic throughout — the rich but overprotected girl, the poor but daring and lovable cabin boy, and the vessel itself, which is a sprawling and multifaceted character in its own right — but Oppel places the emphasis squarely on adventure rather than romance, keeping the pace brisk and the characters dynamic. The author's inviting new world will stoke readers' imaginations-and may leave them hoping for a sequel (those curious for a preview can log onto www.airborn.ca). Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This rousing adventure has something for everyone: appealing and enterprising characters, nasty villains, and a little romance." School Library Journal
"Entrancing, exciting adventure....Full of a sense of air, flying details, and action." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Kenneth Oppel is the author of many books, including Airborn, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book and winner of Canada's Governor General's Award; the New York Times bestselling Skybreaker; and the internationally bestselling Silverwing trilogy and its prequel, Darkwing. A native of Canada, Kenneth Oppel lives with his wife and children in Toronto.
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