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



by
Melissa Sweet

Edition
-
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Imprint
Houghton Mifflin
ISBN
9780547199450

Awards and Honors
2012 Orbis Pictus Award Winner; 2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner; 2012 Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended; ALA Notable Children’s Book 2012, Middle; Booklist Top 10 Art Books for Youth, 2011; Booklist 2011 Editors' Choice, Top of the List, Nonfiction; Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books 2011, Nonfiction; Booklist Lasting Connections of 2012, Social Studies; 2012 Notable Children's Book in the English Language Arts; Booklist Top 10 Biography Books for Youth: 2012; 2012 CCBC Choices; 2012 Cybils Award Finalist, Nonfiction Picture Books
Triple Crown National Book Award 2016-2017
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QTY
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JLG Category

Easy Reading Plus

The famed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade has been a holiday institution since 1924. Tony Sarg was the visionary puppeteer behind it all. Author’s note. Sources and bibliography. Excerpt from The Tony Sarg Marionette Book. Macy’s parade advertisement from the 1933 New York Times. Black-and-white photographs of Tony Sarg. Full-color illustrations in gouache, collage, and mixed media.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
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Details

Format

Print

Page Count

40

Trim Size

11" x 9"

Dewey

791.5/3092 B

AR

5.4: points 0.5

Lexile

AD1000L

Scholastic Reading Counts

2

JLG Release

Dec 2011

Topics

Tony Sarg (1882-1942). Puppeteers. Biography. Thanksgiving Day. New York, New York, history. Parades.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book Magazine*, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

STARRED REVIEW
Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer responsible for the creation of those now-famous gigantic balloons that are emblematic of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even as a child, Tony Sarg was fascinated with movement, rigging ingenious contraptions that allowed him to feed the chickens early in the morning while remaining snug in his bed. He moved on to create fabulous marionettes that came to the attention of Macy’s, and he was invited to design their holiday window displays. In 1924, when the store decided to put on a parade to please their immigrant employees who missed their holiday traditions of music and dancing in the streets, Sarg designed costumes and floats. As the parade became increasingly popular and the streets more and more crowded, he realized he needed to design something that would be large enough and high enough to be seen by all, and the idea of the balloons was born. Sweet tells this slice of American history well, conveying both Sarg’s enthusiasm and joy in his work as well as the drama and excitement of the parade. Rich in detail, the gouache, collage, and mixed-media illustrations are a stand-out, capturing the charm of the period and the awe-inspiring balloons. This one should float off the shelves.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
At Macy’s department store, marionette maker Tony Sarg started inside and worked his way out. He designed mechanical storybook figures for Macy’s window displays before inventing the giant balloon characters that would become the signature feature of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sweet’s whimsical mixed-media collages, embellished with little dolls she made herself out of odds and ends, reinforce the theme that, for Sarg, work was play. He loved his job just as much as the cheering crowds loved his balloons (one of Sweet’s watercolor illustrations shows open-mouthed children fairly dancing with delight). Sweet runs through the various problems Sarg had to solve before his behemoths could fly: “He would have to make much larger puppets in order for them to be seen in the parade. And how could he make them strong enough to hold up in bad weather yet light enough to move up and down the streets?” (He hired a blimp manufacturer in Ohio to create his designs out of rubberized silk.) His biggest concern was that the balloons seem animated, that they move like puppets, so he came up with the idea to control them like marionettes, only with the control strings on the bottom instead of the top. Thus, thanks to Tony Sarg, SpongeBob soars. An author’s note and source list are appended.

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

STARRED REVIEW
Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer responsible for the creation of those now-famous gigantic balloons that are emblematic of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even as a child, Tony Sarg was fascinated with movement, rigging ingenious contraptions that allowed him to feed the chickens early in the morning while remaining snug in his bed. He moved on to create fabulous marionettes that came to the attention of Macy’s, and he was invited to design their holiday window displays. In 1924, when the store decided to put on a parade to please their immigrant employees who missed their holiday traditions of music and dancing in the streets, Sarg designed costumes and floats. As the parade became increasingly popular and the streets more and more crowded, he realized he needed to design something that would be large enough and high enough to be seen by all, and the idea of the balloons was born. Sweet tells this slice of American history well, conveying both Sarg’s enthusiasm and joy in his work as well as the drama and excitement of the parade. Rich in detail, the gouache, collage, and mixed-media illustrations are a stand-out, capturing the charm of the period and the awe-inspiring balloons. This one should float off the shelves.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
At Macy’s department store, marionette maker Tony Sarg started inside and worked his way out. He designed mechanical storybook figures for Macy’s window displays before inventing the giant balloon characters that would become the signature feature of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sweet’s whimsical mixed-media collages, embellished with little dolls she made herself out of odds and ends, reinforce the theme that, for Sarg, work was play. He loved his job just as much as the cheering crowds loved his balloons (one of Sweet’s watercolor illustrations shows open-mouthed children fairly dancing with delight). Sweet runs through the various problems Sarg had to solve before his behemoths could fly: “He would have to make much larger puppets in order for them to be seen in the parade. And how could he make them strong enough to hold up in bad weather yet light enough to move up and down the streets?” (He hired a blimp manufacturer in Ohio to create his designs out of rubberized silk.) His biggest concern was that the balloons seem animated, that they move like puppets, so he came up with the idea to control them like marionettes, only with the control strings on the bottom instead of the top. Thus, thanks to Tony Sarg, SpongeBob soars. An author’s note and source list are appended.

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