Children's Reading List: The 21 Balloons

This week my daughter and I finished reading The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois. This is a Newberry Medal-winning story that was new to me in recent years. It has become my favorite children's book that I discovered as an adult! :-) (Charlotte's Web remains my childhood favorite children's book)

Professor William Waterman Sherman is the main character of the book. A teacher who loves ballooning, Sherman decides to take a year off to just float around the world in his hot air balloon (which has a small basket house attached to the bottom). He ends up crashing on the island of Krakatoa, meeting 20 families that have relocated there because of the diamond mines found near the base of the volcanic mountain. He spends just 3 days there until he and the families just barely escape the volcano's massive eruption that blows the Island apart (this is real history - happened in 1883). Of course, they all escape in a huge balloon rig. The balloon theme runs throughout the book, weaving together lots of creative uses and inventions.

I love the storyline of the book and how Professor Sherman is retelling his balloon tale so the reader, like the audience in the story, is hearing the events for the first time. But I also love the sheer genius of the creativity of the story. The elevator beds that lower to lower-level bathrooms or raise through the skylights for sleeping under the stars - my daughter immediately asked her daddy if he could install that in her bedroom! :-)

I love books that let your imagination soar and The Twenty-One Balloons is one of those books! I highly recommend it to all parents of young children (though technically this book is at a 5th grade reading level, so there were vocabulary words that my 2nd-grade daughter didn't understand... but now is as good a time as any to expand one's vocabulary!)

5 out of 5 stars for The Twenty One Balloons!


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