January 19, 2011

The Twenty-One Balloons :: William Pene du Bois

Title: The Twenty-One Balloons [book club selection, RC]
Author: William Pene du Bois
Read: MA, NYC
Format: Kindle

This month, RC chose two children's/YA books for book club. Both were excellent, but I think this one suffered (in my esteem) from having been read after the wonderful When You Reach Me. It was a fun and colorful and immensely imaginative read. Though, compared to When You Reach Me, which I think is a great book for kids TO read, I feel that The Twenty-One Balloons is a wonderful story to have read to you.

In it, Professor William Waterman Sherman sets out on a hot air balloon adventure. He is discovered too-soon after his departure on the other side of the country with twenty giant balloons rather than the one he left with. The bulk of the tale is his recount of his adventure on and escape from the volcanic island of Krakatoa.


- the characters, especially the professor, are beyond charming
- Krakatoa is cleverly conceived, both physically and socially
- the Krakatoan inventions are adorably clever
- the story is so sweet and fable-like, you expect it to be moralistic in the end; happily, it's not
- there are cute illustrations

If you would like to rekindle a sense of childlike wonder, or if you are looking for a book to share with a wee person, pick this one up.

Sweet, earnest, charming.
4 out of 5 stars

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