Nov 27, 2012

#TheList, No. 495: The Twenty-One Balloons

If I wanted to give an honest description of this book, I would say: Picture the movie Up, but put the sad montage near the end and subtract the dog.

The Twenty-One Balloons: A man who just wants to be left alone and get some peace and quiet decides to take a balloon trip for a year.  His plans go astray thanks to a sharp beaked gull, and he ends up across the world in a record 40 days.  The entire country is freaking out about this, including the President, and they can't wait to hear his story (this was before Twitter).  A press conference is held in San Francisco, and he tells the tale of his incredible journey.  

It is great.  Written in 1947 by William Pene du Bois and apparently very similar to F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, an eerie similarity that is referenced in an author's note prior to the novel.  It's suitable for all elementary school ages, either as a read-aloud for those tots who don't quite have a grasp on multiple syllables, or as an independent read.  The story is adventurous, humorous, and all about the descriptions.  Semi-spoiler: he lands on a secretly inhabited island and all of the colony's inventions are described in detail.  ALL of them.

But I'd definitely put this out there as part of a movie/book display. If I was feeling really ambitious, I would make it a Disney themed display (kids LOVE Disney) and pair books with all of the movie and TV show hits.  Plunk this one right next to Up. Enjoy.  

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