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Tony Sarg (1880-1942, "rhymes with aargh!"), the man who invented the giant balloons of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, has found a worthy biographer in Caldecott Honoree Sweet (A River of Words). With lighthearted watercolors, fanciful scrapbooking, and collaged typography, Sweet shows how Sarg, a self-taught immigrant, combined an indomitable curiosity with an engineer's know-how and a forever-young imagination. The story walks readers through each stage of Sarg's development as a master of puppetry-his childhood fascination with mechanics and marionettes, his first big break as a developer of window displays for Macy's, and his early earthbound parade creations (essentially air-filled rubber bags that were steered down the street). And then comes the light-bulb moment: "With a marionette, the controls are above and the puppet hangs down..." writes Sweet. "But what if the controls were below and the puppet could rise up?" The rush that comes from inspiration, the cliffhanger moments of creation, the sheer joy of building something and watching it delight the multitudes-Sweet captures it all in what is truly a story for all ages. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
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K-Gr 3-Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer responsible for the creation of those now-famous gigantic balloons that are emblematic of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even as a child, Tony Sarg was fascinated with movement, rigging ingenious contraptions that allowed him to feed the chickens early in the morning while remaining snug in his bed. He moved on to create fabulous marionettes that came to the attention of Macy's, and he was invited to design their holiday window displays. In 1924, when the store decided to put on a parade to please their immigrant employees who missed their holiday traditions of music and dancing in the streets, Sarg designed costumes and floats. As the parade became increasingly popular and the streets more and more crowded, he realized he needed to design something that would be large enough and high enough to be seen by all, and the idea of the balloons was born. Sweet tells this slice of American history well, conveying both Sarg's enthusiasm and joy in his work as well as the drama and excitement of the parade. Rich in detail, the gouache, collage, and mixed-media illustrations are a stand-out, capturing the charm of the period and the awe-inspiring balloons. This one should float off the shelves.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* This is a picture book about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but that's on the macro level. There is also a wonderfully personal story here as Sweet introduces Tony Sarg, a boy who loved puppets and grew up to create them for one of the world's most famous parades. As a kid, young Sarg was a master manipulator, making marionettes and inventing pulleys that could feed the chickens in his family's coop. As an adult, he brought his marionettes to Broadway, where R. H. Macy saw them and asked Sarg to provide designs for his store's windows and then, later, to create puppets for a holiday parade. Right from the start, in 1924, the Thanksgiving Day Parade was a success, and Sarg's ideas became more expansive, literally, as he designed animals part puppet, part balloon that eventually became the fabulous creatures we know today. Through careful explanation and fantastic art, Sweet explains step-by-step how the balloons were shaped and evolved. The pictures, a mix of collage and watercolors, are as exciting as the parade itself and are presented in an innovative design that uses an array of typefaces, reproductions of old newspaper articles, silhouettes, and the occasional comic-strip format. The only thing that could have made this better is if Sweet had used her stand-out collage techniques for the balloon representations, instead of watercolor artwork. But that's a quibble. What she has done is make a joyous piece of nonfiction that informs and delights in equal parts.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist