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

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade Book Poster Image
Stunning design and story inspires passion for art-making.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about the history of puppeteer Tony Sarg's life and art, as well as see the inner workings and artistic process of making marionettes, puppets, and giant blimp balloons for the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There's also a little bit of history of the parade itself.

Positive Messages

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade offers strongly positive messages about finding and honing your talent, problem solving, perseverance, art making and the positive impact art can have on the lives of many.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The book's central subject, Tony Sarg, is portrayed as an intelligent, kind, and hard working artist who loves using his art to make people happy. He enjoys the process and craft of his art, and because he is so passionate about what he does, he doesn't consider his life's work to be work at all.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents Need to Know That Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade is a stunningly designed, fun and educational book about the history and creation of puppets and the character balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It sends strong messages about the joys in following your passion for art and making a difference in the world, and is a perfect book for art-leaning girls and boys who love to tinker and learn about how things work.

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What's the story?

If you've ever seen the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, then you've seen the giant balloon animals that float above the streets, wowing paradegoers young and old. But if you've ever wondered about the history behind those balloons, look no further. Here, the story of Tony Sarg's adventure is explored from his tinkering as a young boy to his continued innovations and energy in crafting puppets and balloons for the Macy's Parade.

Is it any good?

BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY: THE TRUE STORY OF MACY'S PARADE is a treasure of a book for kids interested in art, history, and how things work. Using an innovative design approach that combines watercolors, collage, papier mache, old newspaper clippings, and found objects, it recreates the history of an artist's life and the impact of his creations -- the simple, evocative animal balloons that are the signature of the Macy's Parade. But behind this story of how the balloons were created is the story of a boy's curiosity and passion, and how his love for tinkering led to a lifelong career in arts and crafts, without any formal training and only his mind and spirit to guide him.

Kids interesting in these subjects will find a wonderland of ideas and inspiration here. Parents may find themselves learning a thing or two about how "upside-down puppets" are crafted, and set out for a project around the house that could use fixing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about found objects. What are found objects, and how did Tony Sarg use them to solve a problem at his house when he was little? Do you have any found objects? What do you do with them?

  • What did Tony Sarg mean when he said he'd never done a stroke of work in his life? What do you think it would be fun to do with your life that would never feel like work?

  • Do you like to tinker? What sorts of things around your house are you curious about how they work?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and art

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