Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Twenty-One Balloons

By William Pene du Bois, 1947
Winner of the Newberry Medal

Synopsis: A teacher decides he has had enough of teaching and prepares for a one-year around-the-world trip on a hot air balloon. Many things happen, including a balloon merry-go-around that sounds better than any modern roller coaster I've ever been on, lots of good eating, lots of cool inventions, and an explosion that unexpectedly cuts into things.

This is an incredibly fun, somewhat tedious read. Fun because the story is just too great. Tedious because there is a lot of mechanical explanations of do-dads and whooze-its, which students will like, I believe. And it's refreshing to read something so completely wholesome and happy-go-lucky (the explosion ended peacefully). I'm not sure how it would speak to people of this day and age, although I suppose it would be worthwhile to let them know this book was written a long time ago, about a time even longer ago than that when people had different habits but are pretty much the same after all.

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