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This month I decided to share and review one of my all-time favorite Thanksgiving books: Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Oddly enough, this is actually a non-fiction biography of Tony Sarg, the architect of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. It is a Caldecott Honor Winner, too.
With that in mind, I would like to say that I did not receive a copy of this book in exchange for this review, but rather, I found it in my local library in the juvenile book section under the number of JB SARG (Dewey decimal number is 791.53092 S245Zs). We have been reading this book every year since finding it to learn about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Since this book is non-fiction, the author tells the story behind how the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade became the parade that we are all accustomed to. The parade did not start out the way we see it, but it evolved throughout the years because of the imagination and ingenuity of Tony Sarg, the first Puppeteer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. The author did a very good job of presenting the materials and story of Tony Sarg in a way that was factual, accurate, and precise, while still managing to keep the attention of the reader. I think that this book would be appropriate for any child in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade with younger children needing assistance.
Some of the positive aspects of this book are:
- Melissa Sweet presents the material in such a fashion that the young reader can relate and envision what she is discussing.
- Melissa Sweet is also the illustrator of this book. Her talent as an illustrator is just as splendid as her writing. The artwork, pictures, and other graphical elements dwarf most written sections, but the visuals she presents make use of the old adage that a picture is worth a 1000 words. Each illustration, artwork, and project picture has a major part in the book’s telling of the story of Tony Sarg and that makes it fun for young readers to absorb, remember, and learn from. It is in true Tony Sarg fashion that the illustrations steal the show and dance in the imagination of the reader as they dance from page to page telling his story. At times it seems to walk right off the page and into your lap. The imagery in this book is very clever and utilized to make the facts spring to life, making it memorable for the young reader.
- Because this is a non-fiction book, there needs to be factual data presented in a way that is truthful to the way it occurred. Melissa Sweet accomplished this splendidly by including timelines and reenactments of parts of Tony Sarg’s life. Through illustrations and artwork, we can see as he develops a typical street parade into the dancing balloon marionettes of the beloved and splendid spectacle of today’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The way she intertwines the facts in the text and makes the illustrations seem like photographs and windows into the first parade created by Tony for Macy’s and the spectators is spectacular.
Even though I love this book and would recommend it to anyone, especially a parade lover, there is one minor thing that may detract from this book:
- This book is filled with a lot of good facts about Tony Sarg and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. The facts are presented throughout the book and balanced with ‘fun’ story text, but some sections might be a little harder for younger readers to follow the thoughts around the page. This can be cumbersome for some young readers, but if you are able to help your young reader move through those pages, it should not be too much of an issue.
If you have ever watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, you should take a look at Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. If you would like to get your own copy of this book you can find it on Amazon, in the Kindle store, or maybe even you can find a copy of this book at your local library in the Juvenile section filed under JB SARG or 791.53092 S245Zs.
Make sure to also check out my FREE Parade Unit Study that I created specifically for use with this book and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Clip art by: Revi Devi