Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Children's Book Review: Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

  • Reading level: Ages 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; First Edition, None edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547199457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547199450
  • Buy now at Amazon.


Who invented the first balloons for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? In brilliant collage illustrations, the award-winning artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.

My Thoughts:

It has been a tradition every year since I was a small child, that we would sit and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade while our mother prepared the turkey dinner.  And, now as parent, I can't wait to carry on this tradition and share in the joy and excitement of the Macy's Day Parade, with all the beautiful floats and entertainment with my children?  Even though I have never been to NYC to see the parade in person -- not, sure if I would want to stand in the cold weather in a large crowd, I still feel like I am apart of it, as I sit and watch it at home.

Do you have a favorite float?  Mine has always been the Snoopy float.  And, for entertainment, nothing represents the welcoming of the Christmas season better than a performance from the Radio City Rockettes.  And, thanks to Melissa Sweet, she has captured my love, and the love of many all over the world, for the Macy's Parade and its amazing balloons through her new book, Balloons over Broadway.  Melissa introduces us to Tony Sarg, the inventor of these upside wonders.  We see through illustrations and story how his vision and drawings have turned into an annual event loved and watched by many.  It is one thing to sit back and enjoy the parade, but I love learning about the people behind this great show.  I have to say, it was not until I read this book to my daughter today, that I knew about Tony Sarg.  What an amazing man?  He is so creative and you can see his love of puppets through his work.  I absolutely loved the illustrations and drawings in this book and can't wait to read this book over and over again for years to come to my daughters, as Thanksgiving and the Macy's Day Parade approaches.  Now, they too, will learn about the man behind the upside down puppets, that grace the streets of NYC on Thanksgiving morning.

And, for even more fun, click here to download the activity kit.

About the Author:
Melissa Sweet has illustrated nearly 100 children's books from board books to picture books and nonfiction titles. Her collages and paintings have appeared in the New York Times and Martha Stewart Living, on Madison Park Greetings and Smilebox cards, and on a line of eeBoo toys. She received a Caldecott Honor Medal for a River of Words by Jen Bryant and two New York Times Best Illustrated citations.

In BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade, Sweet uses her trademark mixed-media illustrations and a clear but charming text ("Tony Sarg, rhymes with aargh") to explain the various versions of puppets and balloons Sarg made for the parade, each better than the last, until finally creating the helium-filled balloons we see today. With a gorgeous palette, sidebars of diagrams, archival photographs, and newspaper clippings, Sweet explores the legacy of a creative, fun-loving man who imbued his work with his own playful sensibility and joie de vivre.

Melissa lives with her husband and dogs in Rockport, Maine. For more information, visit www.melissasweet.net.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by the author in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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