Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Lynn: It’s waaay too early to begin making lists but Balloons Over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (Houghton 2011) is already one of my favorites for this year.  First there is the fascinating story of how the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade came to have its signature giant balloons.  Then there is the enchanting story of how Tony Sarg, the little boy who always “loved to figure out how to make things move,” grew up to be a famous puppeteer and spent his life delighting audiences of all ages.  Then there are Sweet’s cheery innovative illustrations that just beg readers to stop and absorb every detail.  Sweet combines watercolor sketches with photo collages made from a mix of papier-mache puppets constructed from paper from old books, found objects, and fabrics – all based on Tony Sarg’s illustrations.  The result is a joyous celebration of a man who spent his life doing what he loved.

The focus group loved this book as much as I did.  They were fascinated by the wonderful details on every page and we all loved the humor.  It is hard to pick a favorite illustration but ours may be the scene in which the parade balloons first fly high.  The page turn requires a book turn too and the effect creates a true sense of you-are-there elation as the balloon soars high over the street.  Sweet provides great back matter too with a fascinating author’s note, information about the art and a great bibliography that I am eager to check out.  Get this ordered right away for Thanksgiving displays and story times!

Cindy: Keep your football and your Black Friday shopping advertisements…I’ll take a cup of coffee and my Macy’s Day Parade for my Thanksgiving Day entertainment. The author’s note says that Sarg’s balloons first floated above the parade route in 1928 and have done so every year except for two years during WWII when the helium and rubber were used instead for the war. I love the quote from this creative man who spent his life illustrating children’s books, designing toys, creating animated displays and managing a marionette puppet troupe and answered every child’s letter he received:

I have never done a stroke of work in my life. –Tony Sarg

Melissa Sweet also illustrated the Caldecott Honor book, A River of Words by Jen Bryant…and this one is just as fabulous.

Don’t miss more great nonfiction books for Nonfiction Monday – this week hosted by Charlotte’s Library.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet"

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  1. scopenotes@gmail.com' Scope Notes says:

    Been wanting to read this one! Good to know that all the great things I’ve been hearing are true.

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