Balloons over Broadway
Balloons over Broadway
Melissa Sweet
ISBN 9780547199450
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal
5 stars
Keywords: balloons-over-broadway day-parade melissa-sweet puppets thanksgiving tony-sarg toys

Balloons over Broadway
by Melissa Sweet

Have you ever thought about how balloons came to dominate the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? From this day forward you and your youngsters won't be able to look at them without thinking of Tony Sarg.

Melissa Sweet introduces Sarg as a born problem-solver, whose solutions brim with wit and an overarching sense of play. He once said he "became a marionette man when he was only six years old," rigging up an elaborate pulley system so he could complete his morning chore--feeding the chickens--while remaining comfortably in his bed. Sweet proved with her Caldecott Honor illustrations for A River of Words that she could pack a lot of information into the illustrations of a picture-book biography. Here she goes a step further, incorporating into her collages the materials that Sarg would have used in the creation of his puppets—fabrics, cord, paper and pencils. The author-artist uses spare prose as one might poetry.

Sweet traces Sarg's rise from London, where he made puppets from wood, cloth and strings, to his performance with the Tony Sarg Marionettes on Broadway in New York City, to the Macy's team commissioning a "puppet parade" for their holiday windows--and for whom he would eventually invent the now-famous balloons.

Your children will be pleased to meet and also take to heart this unsung hero, whose motto--"I have never done a stroke of work in my life"--models the importance of imaginative play in creative problem-solving.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

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