Hot Air

Author: Sandrine Dumas Roy
Illustrator: Emmanuelle Houssais
Translator: Sarah Ardizzone

Age: 6+
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 9781907912221
Publication Date: 03-04-2013
Format: Pb, 260mm x 260mm
Extent: 32 pages

Things are hotting up...

The animals know something is wrong  with the planet. But what? Farting cows, of course! Can the animals ever agree on a sustainable solution? And will they find it in time?

Hot Air is an unusual, sideways look at global warming and environmental politics. Or it could just be a load of hot air...

Downloadable teaching resources available here.


This typically quirky title from Phoenix Yard Books offers a fresh perspective on climate change, as animals from all over the planet take matters into their own paws and claws in order to identify what's causing the rise in temperature that is affecting everyone's habitat and, having pinned it down to flatulent bovines, put their snouts and beaks together to come up with some kind of solution.  It's a smart narrative that's stylishly illustrated - and framed neither as a lecture nor a morality tale, but rather, as a problem waiting for an innovative response. Do your learners agree that farting cows are the main issue facing our planet today? What other potential dangers to the environment can they identify? And what clever ideas might they suggest in order to counteract them?

Teach Primary

Hot Air introduces children to the very complex subjects of global warming and climate change and touches on international accountability and legacy while remaining very light and even utterly silly at times.  Thanks to its quirky artwork, which uses mixed media including collage and intricate drawings full of amusing details, and a wacky storyline, the tale remains light at all times, avoiding a preachy and negative tone.  Though the book does not offer a solution to climate change, it invites young readers to help seek one, encouraging ecological responsibility and making an active contribution to change.

There is a rather cheeky but well deserved dig at international politics, and the “bigwigs” who talk a lot of hot air but fail to take a stand for change. This kind of satire, à la Animal Farm, will not be lost on adult readers and really adds to the overall ingenuity of this book.

Hot Air is most definitely a book that will trigger discussion about the environment and our responsibility, and for this reason is possibly best suited for slightly older readers.  It will make a wonderful resource to use in the classroom but its unusual and fun storyline will make it a hit at home too.

Mélanie McGilloway, Armadillo Magazine

An unusual look at global warming, as seen through the eyes of the animals who are finding things are not as they have always been. So they decide a global conference is needed to find the answer. The conclusion is that it's the gassy cows who are causing the problem - but finding a solution is harder because every creature will only look at things from their own viewpoint. It's a hilarious look at a global problem which makes the reader think about the way we try to tackle the problem. Thoughtful and unusual with intriguing and fascinating illustrations. It's an excellent way to stimulate discussion and the approach is such that it can be used across a range of age groups.

Parents in Touch

Hot Air, with its funny, fascinating illustrations and arresting text style, features climate change in a decidedly unusual and ‘wind-propelled’ way! Dumas Roy’s story of ‘farting cows’ threatening the planet will cause a few giggles as well as making children think about the way the world works and how important it is for us all, however young or old, to protect our planet... Hot Air is an unusual, sideways look at global warming and environmental politics in a picture book that is visually fun, a learning lesson without lecturing and charmingly cheeky in true Gallic style.

Lancashire Evening Post

Whimsical collage illustrations add just the right note to this allegory. Protesting animals carry banners and signs in unrecognizable languages that might just represent actual animal sounds. Investigating dolphins take to the air in curious flying machines. Colorful surgeonfish equipped with stethoscopes and hypodermic needles offer to operate. See-through cows have mechanical insides. And the suited negotiators, seated in comfortable chairs, have the self-satisfied look of bigwigs everywhere, in spite of their animal heads. Roy tells her story engagingly, playing with sound and language... The translation of this French import is delightful.

Kirkus Reviews

First published in French in 2009 and translated into English by Sarah Ardizzone for its 2013 publication in Great Britain, this picture-story book is likely to appeal greatly to readers aged from 9 to 19 - and well beyond! At the heart of the comedy, with the help of boldly brilliant illustration, there is the serious topic of global warming. In its own clever way, this topic is set before all readers.

The School Librarian

This book sheds a humorous light on the problems of global warming. There aren't going to be many kids that don't giggle every time the cows' farting problem gets mentioned but it isn't just about grabbing their attention using a 'naughty' word.

The writing is eye-catching with changes of font size, and the illustrations are bright and quirky with lots of weird and wonderful contraptions that the animals use in their investigations. The story gives lots of scope for asking 'what would you do?' and encouraging children to think about global warming and perhaps come up with their own suggestions of how it might be tackled.

Our book reviews online

A big question for little minds.

Advocate Messenger

The humour is perfect for young readers, but the seriousness of the problem is not diluted... If you are looking for a way of introducing young children to this important topic, Hot Air is ideal.

English 4-11

Sample pages (© Emmanualle Houssais)

So the dolphins are dispatched on a fact-finding mission.

Then the Surgeon Fish have the idea of operating on two or three of the cows' stomachs. "If they ruminate less, it goes without saying they'll burp less."

"We need to collect all the gas produced by the cows, and use it to power a factory instead. We'll build our fart-converting plant on an ice-field where it will act as a giant freezer: manufacturing cold air and protecting the ice.”

 "The porpoise is right: it's the only way!"

About the Author, Illustrator and Translator

Sandrine Dumas Roy is a film director and broadcast journalist living in Provence. She specialises in reporting on and making documentaries about sustainable development and issues of environmental concern.

Emmanualle Houssais is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Nantes. Hot Air is her second of four illustrated books for children.

Sarah Ardizzone has twice won the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation. Her other translations for Phoenix Yard Books include I have the right to be a child, Mr Leon’s Paris and Little Red Hood.

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