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

Melissa Sweet, Illustrator
Melissa Sweet. Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-547-19945-0
Reviewed on: 08/08/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Ebook - 40 pages - 978-0-547-76716-1
Open Ebook - 40 pages - 978-0-547-52930-1
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Tony Sarg (1880–1942, “rhymes with aargh!”), the man who invented the giant balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, has found a worthy biographer in Caldecott Honoree Sweet (A River of Words). With lighthearted watercolors, fanciful scrapbooking, and collaged typography, Sweet shows how Sarg, a self-taught immigrant, combined an indomitable curiosity with an engineer’s know-how and a forever-young imagination. The story walks readers through each stage of Sarg’s development as a master of puppetry—his childhood fascination with mechanics and marionettes, his first big break as a developer of window displays for Macy’s, and his early earthbound parade creations (essentially air-filled rubber bags that were steered down the street). And then comes the light-bulb moment: “With a marionette, the controls are above and the puppet hangs down...” writes Sweet. “But what if the controls were below and the puppet could rise up?” The rush that comes from inspiration, the cliffhanger moments of creation, the sheer joy of building something and watching it delight the multitudes—Sweet captures it all in what is truly a story for all ages. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
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