Balloons Over Broadway
Written & Illustrated by Melissa Sweet | 2011

This book review is sadly overdue. I had it mostly ready with pictures and all, and then we had a death in the family and our holiday looked different than anticipated. But I still wish to highlight this book as it is so fun and can be loved anytime, even though it is about the Thanksgiving Day parade. Balloons Over Broadway is a condensed illustrated history about Anthony “Tony” Sarg, and how he came to be the creator/puppeteer of the gigantic balloons of Macy’s parade.

The story starts with introducing you to Tony as a young boy who loves to make things. It then moves swiftly through his adventures in making marionettes and moving to New York.

When the department store, Macy’s, discovers Tony’s marionettes they hire him to do some store windows with moving marionettes. Soon after, Macy’s decides to create a parade for their immigrant employees and they ask Tony to help. (I did not realize that was the start of the parade!)

The rest of the book takes you through several years of parade creations as Tony figures out how to get his marionettes bigger and bigger until they are what we know today – mammoth-size balloons that wobble and sway.

This books is delightful. Not only is it about a marvelous and famous parade, but Ms. Sweet’s illustrations include collages and homemade toys and puppets in a style she imagines Sarg would have created as a child. The book is so fun to study and find hidden details and notes. Also included is a link to her website where you can find an activity kit full of finger puppets, head puppets, face puppets and more! I had great fun creating some of these for our last storytime and they sure were a hit with the little ones as they pretended to be balloons in the parade too.

I hope you check this book out for yourself and make sure to explore Melissa Sweet’s website and the many activities she has there too. You can also read a fun interview with Ms. Sweet over on Delightful Children’s Books and this one on Kirkus.