Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Today is inflation day in New York City and it has nothing to do with the economy, but everything to do with blowing up the giant balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. 

Every Thanksgiving, we see these giant balloons make their way down Broadway.  Old ones get retired, new ones are added to the group, but lots of balloons are always there.  Yet, have you ever wondered how it all started?  If you have, then Balloons Over Broadway is the book for you.

In it, artist/author Melissa Sweet tells the story of Tony Sarg, the genius who first figured out how to make these balloons work.  As a boy,Tony had always been interested in figuring out how to make things move.  By the time he was a young man, he had developed a technique for making marionettes move more fluidly.  His reputation grew and when he moved to New York, he was asked by Macy’s to create a movable window display.  Using storybook characters, Tony created a parade across the display windows that dazzled the crowds and made them hungry for more.

It didn’t take long to go from window display to parade and although Tony Sarg’s first parade creations didn’t fly, it wasn’t long too many years before they were floating high in the air down Broadway.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Melissa Sweet tells Tony’s story in simple, straightforward language, ideal for young readers.  She has illustrated the story with a mixed media of watercolors and her own collages which are “a mix of paper from old books to make papier-mâché puppets, found objects and fabrics all painted or altered to illustrate what it may have felt like to be in Sarg’s world.”  Also used were pages of his own illustrations for The Tony Sarg Marionette Book.  Also in evidence is the legacy he left which is “that ‘play’ may be the most important element in making art” which may be why this feels like such a fun book for kids.

This is one of my favorite illustrations in Balloons Over Broadway and, yes, the is Felix the Cat there.  And below is a photo of the 1927 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with the real Felix the Cat balloon.

Balloons Over Broadway is the perfect Thanksgiving Day book and should be a favorite for years to come.

This book is recommended for readers of all ages
This book was purchased for my personal library 



  1. I really loved this book! Thanks for the review!

  2. I read this book after hearing about it on Claudine's Blog: Carry Us Off Books! It is adorable and the illustrations are great. This is a perfect book to read during this time of year. Fabulous review!


Imagination Designs