For many American kids–and some adults–it’s not Thanksgiving without the bands and gigantic balloons of the Macy’s Parade in New York City. Balloons over Broadway tells the fascinating story of those balloons and the man who dreamed them up.
This is a fantastic Thanksgiving read-aloud for first-grade and up, when you need something a little more filling than the average “turkey” tale. And Sweet tells the story of balloon creator Tony Sarg in terms that kids can appreciate.
A wonderful anecdote shows how Sarg loved to make things work even as a child. When his father assigned him the job of feeding the family’s chickens at 6:30 a.m., the boy rigged a series of ropes and pulleys that allowed him to do the job without even getting out of bed!
When Sarg grew up, he built marionettes and performed with them on Broadway. Macy’s first asked him to create a puppet parade for their store windows, but Sarg’s creations later moved to the streets of the city. And as the parade grew, so did the puppets—which evolved into the inflated balloons that we all know.
Sweet’s illustrations are an eye-catching mix of gouache, mixed media and photographs, including a picture of Sarg with a balloon and a page of his own illustrations from The Tony Sarg Marionette Book. Sweet’s cartoonish depictions of parade balloons are especially fun. And when Sarg gets the brainwave to fill the balloons with helium and operate them as upside down puppets, the reader has to turn the book from horizontal to vertical as an elephant balloon bobs skyward.
This book won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award and the Orbis Pictus Award, both of which recognize excellence in non-fiction for children.
Check the WRL catalog for Balloons Over Broadway.