Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet delves into the fascinating history behind the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
This biographical picture book tells the story of Tony Sarg (1880-1942), who is considered by many to be the father of American puppetry. As a child living in Germany, Tony had always loved to create things that moved. As an adult, he lived and worked in London and then in New York City, where his renowned marionettes performed on Broadway. In 1924 Macy’s department store hired Tony to produce costumes and floats for a spectacular holiday parade for their employees, many of whom were immigrants who missed the holiday tradition of lively street festivals. Each year the parade grew and grew, but when the live animals in the parade started to scare the children, Macy’s asked Tony to create larger-than-life puppets to replace them.
This incredible true story is entertaining, illuminating, and inspiring. As a huge fan of the parade myself, I enjoyed learning more about its history. Melissa Sweet deftly layers mixed-media elements to create the stunning illustrations. She incorporates papier-mâché puppets, found objects, and handmade toys into her impressive collages, which beautifully accent the watercolor paintings. An original advertisement for the parade from a 1933 issue of The New York Times is reprinted inside the back cover, and is just one of many thoughtful details to be found throughout this book.
Balloons Over Broadway is perfect for any junior historian, aspiring inventor, or anyone who has watched and enjoyed the fabulous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! In short, this book is well written, delightfully illustrated, and absolutely should not be missed. I recommend this book for ages 5+.