Written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011.
Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for giving thanks for all the wonderful blessings in your life. It's also the glorious holiday devoted to my favorite foods...turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, squash, rolls, cranberry sauce. Excuse me, I'm drooling. While most people will be up bright and early roasting their turkeys and prepping their side dishes, I will be engaged in a yearly tradition that doesn't involve slaving over a hot stove. I will be plopped in front of the television, in my pajamas, and sipping some coffee while watching the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. No matter how old I get, I still get excited to see the huge balloons floating down the city streets. I know a lot of work and people go into making the parade such a success, but I never knew the history behind it. I was thrilled when I learned a picture book was available on the very subject. So, to jump start your Thanksgiving, may I suggest Balloons Over Broadway?
This is the story of Tony Sarg, who became the puppeteer of the Macy's parade. As a boy, he loved to make things move and created various marionettes. When he grew up, he made puppets his life's work. Macy's approached Tony about helping them create puppets for a parade celebrating the holidays. The first parade was held in 1924 and each year it grew in size. Tony created puppets made out of air-filled rubber that floated and were held up by wooded sticks. The problem was not everyone could see them, so he created puppets that had controls below so the puppet could rise up. Hence, the balloon puppets we see today.
I just love this story and the fact that it is geared towards children, but still packed full of information. The illustrations are a combination of watercolors, collage, and toys. It gives the book a playful element, which meshes well with the story. I enjoyed pouring over the details in the illustrations and loved the "scrapbook" style of a book within a book. Knowing the story behind the Macy's parade really prepares me for the joy and whimsy I see in each balloon every year. This is a perfect read for Thanksgiving. Now, hand me my pajamas and cup of Joe...it's parade time.