Prior to this post, I’ve only recommended chapter books, but I wanted to mention a delightful picture book I recently discovered. Balloons Over Broadway recounts the origin of the enormous balloon characters used in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Tony Sarg, a German immigrant, grew up loving puppets and marionettes and taught himself to make and manipulate them in new, creative ways. He moved his family to New York City in 1915 and soon his unique and beautiful marionettes began performing on Broadway.
In the early 1920’s, Tony was asked to help with the very first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade which originally consisted of floats, bands and wild animals from the Central Park Zoo. However, the fierce animals scared many of the parade-goers, and the Macy’s people began looking for a different “animal” attraction. In 1928, after a few less-successful attempts, Tony invented his first “upside-down” balloon animal marionettes. They are considered upside-down, because unlike traditional marionettes, Tony’s are manipulated by handlers on the ground below the “puppet”, rather than from above. What a revolution!
Every year in the parade there is a mix of both new character/animal balloons and old favorites. This 40-page book will make watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade so much more interesting for your entire family! I bought a copy of Balloons Over Broadway for each of my three daughter’s families this year — I can’t wait to hear what the grandchildren think of the beautiful floating marionettes on display this year and find out which ones were their favorites!
Early Grade Reading Level, 40 pages, Holidays, Published in 2011.