I know, I know. I don’t need to be that insufferable nerd, who is blogging on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll keep this short, as there’s fudge pie waiting for me anyway, but I wanted to do a quick post in celebration of Melissa Sweet’s Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (Houghton Mifflin, November). (I’ve had this beautiful book for months and keep slipping and calling it Bullets Over Broadway and then find myself whispering, “No, no, don’t speak. Please don’t speak,” which is just the wrong narrative altogether.) If you’re here, taking in this post, why then, here’s some quick reading before you watch that Macy’s parade — a book about Tony Sarg, the man responsible for those annual ginormous (and ginormously impressive) balloons. Melissa shares this morning here at 7-Imp some images and early sketches from the book (another early sketch is pictured right), as well as archival images of Tony and his work. (She also pointed out to me the below video, footage from the ’30s of the Macy’s parade. Fascinating to see.)
Now, another reason I can be brief today is that there are lots of other great write-ups I can point you towards with regard to this wonderful picture book biography of Sarg, pictured later in this post. (And I mean wonderful: This is one lovingly-crafted and very engaging book, but then I’m not surprised, as it comes from Melissa Sweet.) There’s Jama Rattigan’s early November post (“If ever there was a perfect biographer for Master Puppeteer Tony Sarg, it’s Melissa Sweet”); Mary Lee’s post at A Year of Reading; this great interview with Melissa at Kirkus; and this write-up by Pete Hamill in the New York Times (“Sweet’s brilliant combination of collage, design, illustration and text gives ‘Balloons Over Broadway’ an amazing richness”) — to name just several of many, I’m sure.
So, if you’re so inclined, you can go read those posts from those talented folks, but here I shall briefly share some images Melissa sent, as well as throw in my own enthusiastic words for this book. Melissa crafted this biography—which nearly glows with its reverence for the subject matter—with gouache, collage, and mixed media. It’s entirely a delight for one’s eyes to take it all in. Telling the story of Sarg—the inventive child who grew up to make marionettes and puppets and then developed the balloons that parade, still to this day, over New York City every Thanksgiving—she gives a tip of the hat to a creative artist about whom most children haven’t heard — and does so in such an accessible, inviting way that even the youngest of children, I think, would be taken with this book.
Kirkus has called this one “bright” and “brimming”: “Sweet’s charming mixed-media layouts form a playful bridge between her creative process and Sarg’s. She fashioned whimsical toys from painted blocks, buttons and fabric, combining them in photo-collages with old books, cut paper, imagined sketches for Sarg’s projects, watercolor images of parade scenes and much more.” I’m with Jama in that there couldn’t possibly be a better picture book artist to tell Sarg’s story.
I thank Melissa for sharing today. Some of the spreads from the book below are small-ish and, if you want to see up-close and detailed, a bit challenging to see, but this is one picture book worth holding in your own hands anyway. If you’re so inclined, visit your local library or bookstore. This biography is a delight from beginning to end.
in his toy collection.”
and the puppet hangs down…”
BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY: THE TRUE STORY OF THE PUPPETEER OF MACY’S PARADE. © 2011 by Melissa Sweet. Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Melissa Sweet.