Review: Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

balloons over broadway

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

For over 80 years, there have been huge balloons in the Macy’s Parade.  We have Tony Sarg to thank for that.  Even when Tony was a small boy, he was inventing things.  He figured out a way to feed the chickens in the morning without having to get out of bed.  He wanted to be a marionette puppeteer, but was born in a time when marionettes were not being used anymore.  So he figured out how to build them and started performing on Broadway with his marionettes.  From there, he got a job designing the holiday windows for Macy’s where he did puppets that moved through gears and pulleys.  After that, he started working on parades.  He first built balloons that were held by stiff sticks, but they needed to be higher so more people could see.  So out of necessity and through tremendous creativity, he figured out how to make balloons fly high but still be controlled and seem lifelike.  We are all lucky enough to still be able to see the work of Sarg every Thanksgiving in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

This book is all about dreaming big and then figuring out a way to make those huge dreams come to life.  Sarg’s life is also about following your own personal bliss and making a living doing what you love.  It is a tribute to creativity and imagination on a grand scale.  Sweet has created a book that celebrates all of this and remains a biography of a real man too.

Her art is a tremendous part of the book’s success.  Through a mix of painting and collage, she brings Sarg’s world to life.  Fabrics, different paper, objects and maps all find their way into the illustrations, creating new textures, dimension and color.  They are illustrations that celebrate on almost every page, filled with bright colors and ingenuity.

Highly recommended, this book should be added to everyone’s must read list for Thanksgiving titles, but don’t keep it just for that time of year.  It is also a great book to discuss creativity and unusual jobs!  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

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