This is a lushly illustrated picture book biography of Tony Sarg, a pioneer of puppetry who contributed to making the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade the extravaganza it is today. Sweet details his early German roots and his penchant for puppetry, toy making, and experimentation. In the 1920s, he works with Macy’s department store to design and create new additions to the traditional parade celebrating immigrant traditions at Thanksgiving time. Several iterations of balloons are described and depicted in fascinating collage illustrations. Young readers will be fascinated by the process as well as by the adult’s child-like enthusiasm for his chosen career.
Melissa Sweet’s distinctive mixed media art and clever use of graphic and textual elements complement the story perfectly—especially since the subject himself was known for using all kinds of materials for his creative work.
Share this book or excerpts from it prior to Thanksgiving for maximum relevance. Watch clips from previous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades, paying particular attention to the balloons. Compare with those that Sweet describes from previous generations. Gather supplies and try working together to create a balloon or “upside down” puppet as a group using some of the ideas presented in the book.
Other biographical picture books illustrated by Melissa Sweet:
Bryant, Jen. A RIVER OF WORDS: THE STORY OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS. ISBN 978-0802853028
Davies, Jacqueline. THE BOY WHO DREW BIRDS: A STORY OF JOHN JAMES AUDUBON. ISBN 978-0618243433
By Sylvia M. Vardell