Reviews for Airborn


Booklist Reviews 2004 June #1
Gr. 6-8. Matt Cruse is a cabin boy aboard the luxury passenger airship Aurora when the ship encounters a battered hot air balloon with an unconscious man aboard. Before dying, the man claims to have seen beautiful creatures swarming in the air over an uncharted island. Not until a year later, when Matt meets the man's granddaughter, Kate de Vries, who boards the Aurora, does he learn that the man wasn't hallucinating. Pirates board, rob, and kill, and a fierce storm grounds the Aurora on the very island that Kate's grandfather spoke about--which proves to be the pirates' secret hideaway. Though readers will need to suspend disbelief of the mysterious flying creatures, which Matt and Kate call "cloud cats," details of life and work aboard the ship as well as the dramatic escapade itself make this a captivating read. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Matt Cruse, a cabin boy on the airship [cf2]Aurora[cf1], helps rescue hot air balloonist Benjamin Molloy. Later, Molloy's granddaughter Kate travels on the [cf2]Aurora[cf1] hoping to learn more about the strange winged mammals the balloonist wrote about in his journal. Set in an alternate Edwardian-styled past and featuring an enthusiastic narrator, this is a fast-paced fantasy-adventure. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #4
In a breathtaking opening sequence, cabin boy Matt Cruse on the airship Aurora spies a hot-air balloon slowly sinking in the night sky, its pilot unconscious in the gondola. Within minutes Matt is harnessed and swinging four hundred feet above the ocean for a daring midair rescue. Though Matt saves balloonist Benjamin Molloy, the elderly man dies the following day after mumbling some cryptic words about "beautiful creatures." A year later, Molloy's granddaughter Kate travels on the Aurora hoping to learn more about the strange winged mammals the balloonist wrote about in his journal. "Cloud cats"--magnificent creatures that live solely in the air--are among several fanciful elements in this novel, which is set in an alternate Edwardian-styled past that's both familiar (wireless radios, Lumiere projectors) and exotic (giant "hydrium"-filled airships traverse the "Pacificus" and "Atlanticus" oceans). Matt is a wonderfully enthusiastic narrator whose passion for flight is evident on every page, and he's well matched by the strong-willed, intellectually curious Kate. Their adventures in this fast-paced, buoyant novel have a sweeping, cinematic feel as pirates attack the Aurora, the vessel is shipwrecked, and Matt and Kate escape imprisonment just in time to dispatch the bad guys, save the Aurora and its passengers, and, of course, fall in love. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 May #2
Entrancing, exciting adventure with airships, pirates, and mysterious flying mammals takes place on an earth with the same geography as ours but different technology. Fifteen-year-old Matt works as cabin boy on the Aurora, a two-million-pound airship kept aloft by gas cells filled with hydrium, the lightest gas in the world. Matt loves the skies; aground, he feels stifled and claustrophobically disconnected from his late father, who was also an Aurora worker. Kate, a rich passenger Matt's age, boards the Aurora in search of furry, flying sky mammals mentioned in her late grandfather's journal but unknown to anyone else. A pirate attack forces an emergency landing on an uncharted island in the Pacificus ocean. Matt's intricate knowledge of his ship and Kate's cheerfully stubborn determination bring them, scrabbling hard, to victory over the brutal pirates and discovery of the wondrous cloud cats. Full of a sense of air, flying details, and action. (airship diagram) (Fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 April #4
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. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 June #3
"In crisp, precise prose, Oppel 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," wrote PW. "The author's inviting new world will stoke readers' imaginations." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 July
Gr 6-10-An original and imaginative Victorian-era fantasy. Matt, 15, only feels alive when he's aloft working as a cabin boy aboard the Aurora, a luxury airship that is part dirigible, part passenger cruise ship. When wealthy Kate and her chaperone come aboard, Matt soon discovers that she is determined to prove her grandfather's claims that he saw strange creatures flying in the sky in that area the year before. The man's diary describes them as huge, furry beasts with batlike wings and sharp claws. Soon after Kate arrives, pirates attack the ship and rob the wealthy passengers. A storm forces the damaged Aurora to set down on a seemingly deserted island. Kate and Matt discover the skeletal remains of one of the creatures, and, later, a live but deformed one that lives among the treetops. In their attempts to photograph "the cloud cat," they stumble upon the pirates' hideout and are captured. Can they escape in time to stop the brigands from stealing the Aurora? Will Kate prove the existence of this undiscovered species? This rousing adventure has something for everyone: appealing and enterprising characters, nasty villains, and a little romance. Oppel provides glimpses of the social conventions of the era, humorous byplay between the main characters, and comic relief in the form of Matt's cabin mate and Kate's straitlaced chaperone. Reminiscent of Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines (HarperCollins, 2003), this adventure is much lighter in tone and has a lower body count.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2004 June
Frustrated by his lowly cabin-boy status, Matt Cruse is bent on advancing in rank while serving on the mammoth airship Aurora. When a damaged balloon piloted by a weakened elderly man draws near the dirigible, Matt's diminutive size is an asset. The intrepid teen volunteers to leap the narrow gap between the aircraft and rescue the balloonist. Saved but dying, the pilot demands to know if Matt saw the "flying beasts." Flashing ahead one year, the Aurora embarks on a voyage transporting passengers from Lionsgate City to Sydney, Australia. A late-arriving teen, Kate de Vries, charms Matt, launching a platonic courtship. Isolated in the vast atmosphere above the ocean, the Aurora is plundered by pirates, its gasbags slashed by the rogue vessel's propellers, and the airship crashes onto a desert island, the buccaneer hideout. Exploring the jungle, Kate and Matt encounter elusive Cloud Cats, the mysterious flying beasts described by the dying balloonist. Captured and imprisoned by the pirate gang, the duo escapes only to stumble onto an underground deposit of hydrium necessary to raise the ship, but first they must thwart the robber's plans to murder Aurora's crew Kate and Matt are given equal roles in this adventure laced with a touch of fantasy reminiscent of Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Committing several murders, the pirates are typically unsavory but are not stock cartoon characters. This title, packed with suspense, fantasy, and thrills, is a solid selection geared to middle school boys.-Rollie Welch PLB $17.89. ISBN 0-06-053181-9. 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.

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