Narrative Non-Fiction Text #1- Balloons over Broadway

Millions of people around the globe tune into watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while others flock to the city to watch the parade via live. Here’s a fun fact: On Thanksgiving eve, a crowd of people gather on Broadway and Central Park West to witness the unveiling of the balloons that will be apart of the parade.

The text Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet centers around Anthony “Tony” Sarg’s life. As a child, he enjoyed making things move. At the age of 6, Tony was known as a mariotte man since he came up with creative ways on how to make his life easier by using pulleys and strings. As Tony grew up, he relocated to London where he discovered that no marionettes were being made for kids anymore. Therefore, he created puppets and had them perform as they were real actors. Tony eventually moved to New York City, and Macy’s had heard about his work. The store signed signed him to create puppets as part of store’s holiday window. His puppets were based on storybook characters such as Humpty Dumpty. Since Tony had done a fabulous job with the puppets, Macys hired him to be the creative director for the annual Macys Thanksgiving Day parade. At the end of the story, readers get a glimpse of how this little boy’s dream of making things move turned into him being the person responsible for having the balloons float up in the sky during the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Once I opened the book, I was hooked since there are various captions, illustrations, and one can really appreciate all the vivid details that makes this book come alive. It’s interesting to see how Tony Sarg’s journey go from marionette to being the creator behind the balloons that soar through New York City’s skyline on Thanksgiving. In the book, readers discover that animals including lions, tigers, and elephants were apart of the annual tradition once. “Tony hoped to replace the animals with some kind of puppets, but his marionettes were less than three feet tall. He would have to make much larger puppets in order for them to be seen in the parade. And how could he make them strong enough to hold up in bad weather yet light enough to move up and down the street?”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because I feel as if I can relate to it in a sense. Several years ago, I worked as a journalist for a well-known newspaper and I did a piece for the features section. My articles covered the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I went to a warehouse in New Jersey where all the balloons, floats, and costumes are stored. It was so interesting and was a once and a lifetime experience because I learned alot about the parade. In addition, I also went on Thanksgiving eve to see the floats and saw how all the children and adults were amazed at looking at all the balloons. There is so much creativity that goes into this parade, and it starts with just a sketch. It was absolutely amazing to see how much work is put into this parade and it’s only held once a year.

I believe children would enjoy reading this book because most children enjoy parades and looking up at the sky seeing their favorite characters soar up in the sky. It’s a great book because it relates to America’s favorite annual tradition, and one can paint a picture in their minds to compare what the parade used to look like to today’s tradition.

While reading this book, some questions that arose were:

1. What inspired Tony as a little boy to be involved with puppetry?

2. What reason (s) did Tony relocate to London?

3. If Tony was alive today, what would you say to him?


About krazzykatty85

For several years, I used to work as a journalist for a prestigious newspaper. A couple of years later, I changed careers and am going to be a teacher. These days you can find me purchasing materials for my future students that I hope to use in my classroom as well as creating engaging lesson plans while trying to have a life. When life gives you lemons, always make lemonade!

One response to “Narrative Non-Fiction Text #1- Balloons over Broadway

  1. elisabethjohnson


    Your first paragraph drew me in and connected to an event I’m familiar with. Your summary was punchy and full of nice details as well as salient quotes. I did wonder what genre traits this text had. What qualifies it as “narrative non-fiction”? How would you identify those traits to young children? What age groups would you use it with for different purposes? Your review was clear and you shared your own experiences with the balloons and the parade, which made sense. What additional resources might you bring to bear for students without your rich, personal experiences to this Macy’s Day parade? Have you seen “Being Elmo?” I thought alot of this documentary as I was reading about this book. Interesting choice. What makes it a biography? What other sorts of narrative non-fiction are not biographies? How do they differ? How do they overlap? Strong start, but don’t forget to identify those genre traits.

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