Friday, November 23, 2012

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Rating: 5 floaty, bouncy stars

I was going to write about  Balloons Over Broadway last night, after returning from my sister's house for a grand Thanksgiving meal.  With apple pie in my belly and wine in my brain, I figured I'd wax poetic about this book, about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, on the very day of the parade.  Perfect, right?

Life stepped in a very funny it has a tendency to do.

We left my sister's house around 8, and the blue-eyed kids (that'd be Kiefer and Lorelei) stayed awake during the ride home.  My fellow hazel-eyed kid (Ben!) had that oh-my-god-his-neck-is-going-to-hurt! stance and was completely zonked.  Hmmm.  It's a good holiday when the kids fall asleep in the back on the way home, I think.  But then there are those details: How can I get him to get inside, go to the bathroom, change into pajamas without waking up?

I succeeded (with the help of my husband, thank you to him), and my night ended with the chance to gaze at one of our sleeping children, cute when awake but angelic when asleep.  A very appropriate end to a day for giving thanks.

Lorelei and I read this book as her brothers slept in their rooms.  I promised to find a movie "on the computer" in the morning to show her what we'd read about.

This is a great nonfiction account of Tony Sarg, the inventor of those huge balloons that float and bob down Broadway during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The book starts with his childhood--I love when books do this as my kids (hopefully) realize that great men and women start out as creative little tykes--and quickly takes a turn to New York City, where Sarg makes old-school marionettes for children.  Macy's soon invites him to make one of their still-fantastic window holiday displays.  And then, Macy's decides to hold a parade for their mostly-immigrant workforce, to recreate the music and dancing--a street carnival--that they missed in the countries they had left.  They employed Sarg, and the first parade was a huge success in 1924.
After the balloons were eased under the El, they ended in front of Macy's,
at Tony's Wondertown windows.  It was a parade New Yorkers would never forget!

And, in pure American tradition, they had to make each year bigger and better, right?

At first, animals from the zoo were used in the parade.  But then--here's a shocker--kids started to get a little scared by the lions and tigers and bears (oh my).  To replace the animals, Sarg starts to work on his idea of enormous puppets.  At first he was inspired by an Indonesian rod puppet in his toy collection and created heavy creatures, but they didn't satisfy him.  He had to figure out a way to create something like a marionette but with the controls below and the puppet high, something that would rise up high enough so that lots of people could see them--not just the lucky few in the first row.

Helium was the answer!

And so--you guessed it--after a bunch of thinking and creating and trials and errors, he was finally satisfied with a huge balloon-like puppet that bobbed and nodded its way through the super-crowded streets of the city.  Like those we still see today, like in yesterday's 82nd parade.

In all honesty, this morning I forgot my promise to show Lorelei a video of the parade in New York City.  But as our family headed over to Reston for lunch, we saw--GASP!--big balloons like those in the book!  With our very own eyes!  Bobbing and floating, held up by strings!  The kids were SO excited and, as you can tell by the sudden burst of exclamation marks, I was as well.  How exciting to have something we read about right in front of us.  It was really cool.  I did get a picture of one of the big ol' balloons, but I assure you this clip from youtube is better (I love how Spiderman seems to crawl up from the street), and fun to share with your child when you check this book out.

And I highly recommend that you do check out this book.  The illustrations are top-notch and the story is really interesting and inspirational.  A smile to Tony Sarg, who had a dream in his head and worked on it until it became a reality.

No comments:

Post a Comment