2 Biographical Picture Books

balloons over brodway

Sweet, Melissa. Balloons Over Brodway: The true story of the puppeteer of Macy’s parade. Houghton Mifflin Books, 2011. 34 pages. $16.99. ISBN-13: 978-0-547-19945-0 

Tony Sarg starts his career with marionettes, but his skill leads him to design the first giant puppet balloons for the Macy’s parade.

Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book, Biography

Age Range: 5-10

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality. 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Robert F. Sibert  Informational Book award, 2012

The book follows Tony Sarg from his inventive childhood to a job at Macy’s designing animated mechanical puppets for their windows in the 1920’s. After the Thanksgiving day parade had gained so much popularity that the crowds could no longer see all the floats, Macy’s asked Sarg to design bigger puppets, which he did and was incredibly successful in his project to create animated floating puppets.

This book has bright, enticing illustrations that make the puppets and scenes look fun and playful. Many of the pages have collages to indicate Sarg’s works in progress and the design process. The endpapaers are photos of actual advertisements and items from Sarg’s life. There are maps and other little bits and pieces throughout the book to emphasize and add to the overall excellent design of the illustrations. This was a fun book to read with my 5 year old, we both enjoyed it and then when looking for more information about the parade its balloons.


The Man Who Walked Between the Two Towers by Mordicai Gersein

Milly and the Macy’s Parade by Shana Corey

The Boy Who Drew Birds: a story of John James Audubon by Jaqueline Davies

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Tony Sarg get inspiration for his balloons?
  2. Why does  Macy’s throw a parade? Do you think the reasons have changed over time?


Balloons! Puppets! The Macy’s Parade!


Author website http://melissasweet.net/ the website contains teaching guides and other resource information for this book and her other books as well.

Interview with The Horn Book http://www.hbook.com/2011/11/authors-illustrators/interviews/five-questions-for-melissa-sweet/

Interview and more photo’s of Tony Sarg’s balloons at Jama’s Alphabet Soup 

martin de porres

Schmidt, Gary D. Martin de Porres: The rose in the desert. Illustrated by David Diaz. Clarion Books/ Haughton Mifflin Books, 2012. 32 pages. $16.99. ISBN-13: 978-0547612188

Martin de Porres grew up in the barrios and grew to become a miracle working monk in Lima, Peru.

Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book, Biography.

Age range: 6-10

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality. 2 out of 5 for popularity.

Pura Belpre Award for Illustration, 2013

This is a beautifully illustrated book of the life of St. Martin of Porres, the first black Saint, who spent his life starting out as a poor fatherless child in the barrios and eventually became a monk. During his life he learned to heal, and became devoted to helping the poor and sick, humans as well as animals. His love of people and his clearly miraculous touch earned him a place in the monastery that would otherwise have been unavailable to him due to his fatherless state. The writing is lyrical and nice, the illustrations are rich, jewel toned pastels, giving the story a magical quality.

Surprisingly, this is one that is beloved by my preschool aged son, perhaps because of the lovely pictures, perhaps because he heals dogs and adopts them. The image on the front is vibrant and draws the reader in to see what this animal loving priest could be about.


The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica by Kathleen Norris

Our Lady of Guadalupe by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does the priest expect so little out of Martin?
  2. Why does Martin work in the monastery before becoming a monk?


He heals animals, adopts dogs and makes lemon trees bear fruit year-round. Who is this man?


Gary D. Schmidt website https://hmhbooks.com/schmidt/

Biography Page for Dacid Diaz from the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature

Interview with Davis Diaz on Kidlit, Fantasy and Sci-fi –Feed Your Head!  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s