Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 25, 2020


Melissa Sweet wrote and illustrated a picture book in 2011 titled, BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY and was published by HMH Children’Books. This will be the first year since the Macy’s Day Parade started in 1924 that won’t be open to the public. You will need to watch it in ABC. Melissa created a BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY Activity Book that you can download for FREE. (Scroll down for link.) I wanted to share it with you, since I figure it would be a good thing to do with the kids while watching the parade from home. Melissa has agreed to send a copy of the picture book to one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Everyone will thank you for pointing them to this opportunity.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


2012 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award

2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner

Winner of the 2012 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award

Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! In brilliant collage illustrations, the award-winning artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.



An early sketch in Tony Sarg’s studio where they puppeteers are figuring out how to make the inflatable animals.



How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I first learned about Tony Sarg through an art director I work with. She described him as a puppeteer, a brilliant illustrator and the inventor of the Macy’s Parade balloons. I was completely intrigued. Why had I never heard of him in art school, or anywhere else? After about 2 minutes of research I knew I had to do a book about him. He was not only a master puppeteer, engineer, and entrepreneur, but uncovering his process inspired me. I sensed a kindred spirit.

How did you connect with HMH Books for Young Readers to sell this book?

At that time I was working with an editor at Houghton Mifflin. I suggested the idea to her with only a slight proposal, but it was enough for them to offer me a contract. Beginning any project is equal parts dazzling and daunting as in, can I pull this off? Do I have what it takes? Where is the story here?

From there, the book took three years of research, writing, editing, making the art and playing with ideas along the way.

Was this the first book you wrote and illustrated?

This was the second book I wrote and illustrated, my first nonfiction project going solo.

The book garnered the Steiglitz award, Bank Street’s Cook Prize for a STEM picture book, as well as the Sibert Medal for nonfiction. I am still so honored by these acknowledgements.

Do you have one agent or do you have one for your writing and one for you illustrating?

At this time I don’t have an agent, but when I did it for both writing and illustration.

After that you won many other awards, including two Caldecott Honor awards for: A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, and The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus, both by Jen Bryant. How did that feel to get such high recognition?

Jen Bryant and I had great fun creating the three books we did together. We became good friends in the process and her work continues to amaze me. (In fact, Jen just won this year’s Sibert Medal for her brilliant, ABOVE THE RIM!)  Both of the biographies that won Caldecott Honors were with Eerdmans Publishing. They are a dream to work with. For my part, they gave me complete freedom and lots of encouragement. When the books won the Caldecott Honors we were all over the moon. I felt grateful beyond words, and savored every minute of the festivities. But of course what there is to do next is go back to work. One of my editors always says that the most important thing to pay attention to is your next book. That’s sound advice.


Problem? Use:


Melissa Sweet has illustrated more than 100 children’s books, including the Caldecott Honor books The Right Word and A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams both written by Jen Bryant. She also wrote and illustrated Tupelo Rides the RailsCarmine: A Little More Red, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book; and Balloons Over Broadway, a picture book biography that was named a 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Picture Book. When she is not in her studio, Melissa can be found taking an art class, hiking with her dogs, or riding her bicycle. She lives with her family in Rockport, Maine.

Melissa thank you for sharing you book and putting together your new free Activity Kit. It was fascinating what I learned about the history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and how Tony Sarg came to create the helium balloons we know and enjoy today. Young or old, everyone will be interested in reading this book. I am glad people can still order it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I just read this book for the first time last week. Such a great story. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my son. (Shared on Twitter and I received your daily blog.)


  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book — it’s a thanksgiving staple! I am a newsletter subscriber.


  3. Always wanted to see the parade in person. This is the next best thing!


  4. This is a fantastic book–I’ll miss the (live) parade this year, but will celebrate by re-reading BALLOONS! I receive your blog, Kathy.


  5. I love this book! Actually, I love ALL of Melissa’s books. She has such a distinctive style. I’m a blog subscriber and tweeted the giveaway.


  6. This is wonderful! I love the parade even though I’ve never been there in person. I shared on FB, twitter and am reblogging this post. Thanks Kathy and Melissa for this peek behind a wonderful holiday tradition.


  7. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Just in time for Thanksgiving…the story behind the Macy’s Parade brought to you by author Melissa Sweet.


  8. Sharing BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY is as essential to holiday celebrations as turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Always a favorite!


  9. I’ve seen this book around but never had a copy of my own. Thanks for the chance to win it!
    I’ve shared an image on Pinterest with a link to this post:, and tweeted a link as well.
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a safe day everyone!


  10. I love BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY! Melissa Sweet is magical! I’m also subscribed to your blog and I tweeted about this blog post:


  11. This is a terrific book. The art work is amazing. Thanks for the post.


  12. I’d never heard of this man who brought happiness to so many people. Thank you for sharing his story with the world!


    • Also: Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.


  13. Thank you so much for creating this incredible book. Being a Native New Yorker and the pain of the covid 19 crisis makes this book more meaningful. The children love the balloons and the adults love the dancing. A special event each year. I am alos posting on Facebook.


  14. I love Balloons Over Broadway!


  15. Melissa Sweet is brilliant at bringing biographies and nonfiction to children in a lively and interesting way with her brilliant illustrations and accessible text. Her art is so dynamic and unique. BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY is gorgeous!
    Sharing on Twitter. Thanks for sharing Melissa’s work.


  16. This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving picture books of ALL time!


  17. Love this book -so apropos!


  18. What a perfect idea for a book! I love the illustrations you shared with us and can’t wait to see the rest of the book! Congratulations!

    I follow by email and will share this on Twitter. 🙂


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