nonfiction nuggets…puppets, parades, and Thanksgiving Day

Balloons over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving morning was a time to switch on the black-and-white television set and watch the magical spectacle of Macy’s Parade.  Through the streets of New York City, as far removed from my small, northern-Minnesota town as the moon, it seemed, crept extravagant floats and squads of clowns, marching bands and Santa Claus.  And, hovering over it all, sailed the ginormous balloon figures of Donald Duck, Popeye, Snoopy and Underdog!

How did the Macy’s parade get its start?  Whose idea was it to have the biggest stars of the show be airborne puppets, rather than streetside entertainers?

Those honors go to an incredibly inventive guy named Tony Sarg, and this book, Balloons Over Broadway, tells his fascinating story in its incredibly whimsical, eye-catching, attention-absorbing pages.  Look for multiple awards and accolades to land on this fantastic new publication!

Tony Sarg was apparently born with a crackerjack, whiz-bang mind that hummed and whirred with all sorts of inventive ideas from the get-go.  His pathway led him to marionette-making par excellence, then on to fabricating enticing mechanical puppets for holiday window displays.  As new, creative challenges came his way, Tony’s idea-machine brain twinkled and sparked with new, bigger, and better ideas.  At last, in 1928, Sarg introduced his helium-filled balloon creatures in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Melissa Sweet tells us Sarg’s phenomenal story well, then pulls out all the stops in her amazing mixed media illustrations!  Wow!  The colors, the fonts, the designs, the grandma’s-attic supply of ingredients in these pages just about make me twitch with delight!  Oh. So. Cool! Sweet actually made the toys that she uses in her illustrations, learning from the process of playing with materials a little more of what Sarg’s world must have been like.   It’s the perfect marriage of subject, story, and illustration, from the cover to the title page, to the author’s note and end pages.

Just a jolly lot of fun.  Don’t miss this one!  You’ll enjoy visiting Melissa Sweet’s site as well — I promise!  

Here’s the Amazon link:

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