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The Twenty-One Balloons (Puffin Modern Classics)

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A Newbery Medal Winner Professor William Waterman Sherman intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. But through a twist of fate, he lands on Krakatoa, and discovers a world of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and incredible balloon inventions.Winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal, this classic fantasy-adventure is now available in a handsome new edition.


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A Newbery Medal Winner Professor William Waterman Sherman intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. But through a twist of fate, he lands on Krakatoa, and discovers a world of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and incredible balloon inventions.Winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal, this classic fantasy-adventure is now available in a handsome new edition.

30 review for The Twenty-One Balloons (Puffin Modern Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    One month after graduating from college, I started working. That was in 1984. I am now in my 4th company and except for my paid vacation leaves and rare sick days, I have never been, even a single day, out of the corporate rate race. 27 years of working and trying to earn a living. I know it is still far from the 40 years of being a math teacher in some high school for Professor William Waterman Sherman but once in a while, I also feel that I need to do something outrageous. Maybe just to break t One month after graduating from college, I started working. That was in 1984. I am now in my 4th company and except for my paid vacation leaves and rare sick days, I have never been, even a single day, out of the corporate rate race. 27 years of working and trying to earn a living. I know it is still far from the 40 years of being a math teacher in some high school for Professor William Waterman Sherman but once in a while, I also feel that I need to do something outrageous. Maybe just to break the monotony of my corporate work life. Not necessarily riding an air balloon because it is pricey here in the Philippines. During the Summer Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga, last time I heard, they offer a 30-min ride for P20,000 (~ US$450). I would not want my savings to go to waste, only for 30 mins! Professor Sherman had no family so he was able to afford two giant air (not hot air) balloons constructed to his taste after he retired at the age of 66. He left everything in San Francisco and embarked on the journey of going around the world via his giant air balloon via the Pacific Ocean. I wish I could do something like that. At some point in our lives, burnout comes in and we just want to break free. Leave everything behind and do the things that we really enjoy. Oh well, maybe that’s part of the reason why I try to do something that other people say is impossible: reading books included in the 1001 list. Books bring us to places whose nature sometimes goes beyond our imagination. In books, we also meet people who we never thought existed and know situations that could make us feel more fortunate and blessed. The Twenty-One Balloons won the Newberry Award in 1948. It is a sci-fi utopian children’s book by William Pene de Bois (1916-2993) an American-French illustrator and novelist. The writing is simple but its whimsical ingenuity is amazing. Some strange ideas look plausible like the Balloon Merry-Go-Round and I thought I would like to ride on it if the price will not be too prohibitive ha ha. The utopian kind of economic setup in Krakatoa is something that is possible too only if there is a diamond mine and families are not greedy enough to be disloyal to the island’s other family-inhabitants. Though the theme of loyalty permeates at least in a couple parts -the one I just mentioned and Sherman not obliging to persistent request to tell what happened to his voyage prior to his official interview in the explorers’ association where he is a member of good standing - of the story, overall, it is the dream of doing something totally new, e.g, drastic career shift?, at the latter part of one’s life that I consider my take-away from this wonderful book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Apokripos

    Flight of Fancy (A Book Review of William Pène du Bois’s The Twenty-One Balloons) After busting a literary heavy I noticed that from time to time there’s this feeling, an emerging need to clear the palate, to freshen up and clean the slate for another bout of serious reading. In occasions like this I always dig the rich fields of Children’s Literature on the look out for some fun and light book where I don’t have to think much and just go along to the pull of the story wherever it will take me. Goo Flight of Fancy (A Book Review of William Pène du Bois’s The Twenty-One Balloons) After busting a literary heavy I noticed that from time to time there’s this feeling, an emerging need to clear the palate, to freshen up and clean the slate for another bout of serious reading. In occasions like this I always dig the rich fields of Children’s Literature on the look out for some fun and light book where I don’t have to think much and just go along to the pull of the story wherever it will take me. Good thing I borrowed William Pène du Bois The Twenty-One Balloons from a friend, and judging from its whimsical opening line, it absolutely fits what I want to read at the moment: "There are two kinds of travel. The usual way is to take the fastest imaginable conveyance along the shortest road. The other way is not to care particularly where you are going or how long it will take you, or whether you will get there or not. These two methods of travel are perhaps easiest to be seen by watching hunting hounds. One hound will follow his nose directly to his prey. Another will follow his nose in a roundabout way to molehills, empty rabbit holes, garbage cans, and trees; and perhaps not pay any attention to his prey even when he happens upon it. This second way of getting around has always been pointed out as the nicest for, as you can see in the case of the slower hunting hound, you are able to see more of what is going on in the world and also how nature is getting along." William Waterman Sherman, the protagonist of the 1948 Newbery Medal-winning book, has been teaching arithmetic for boys for forty years in San Fransisco: “Forty years of spitballs. Forty years of glue on my seat.” So he retires at the age of 66 and decides to travel across the Pacific Ocean, be all alone for a year without any possible human contact, and fulfills his wistful longing by building an elaborate hot-air balloon built with accouterments he’ll all ever need. But as soon he discovers, being airborne produces other problems besides spitballs. After some months he was fished out of the ocean on what appears to be the remains of a platform attached to twenty balloons. Just what happened to Professor Sherman on those intervening days and how did he get marooned on the wrong side of the Ocean with too many balloons? It’s an extravagant story that involves a seemingly deserted remote island and an erratic volcano, an amusing form of government and its interesting people, otherworldly yet functional contraptions, and riches beyond man’s dream wrapped up with elements of science-fiction, inventions, fantasy, survival and social commentary all come together in a book that moves from one astonishing plot to another that only Professor William Waterman Sherman can tell. I thought I would be served up with another variation of a Jules Verne inspired tale ala Around the World in Eighty Days, what with a protagonist whose goal is to travel the world by a balloon, yet his journey is not to discover exotic lands but just a simple-minded desire to get away from the humdrum of living. However, as I was wrong in my initial presumption, so is Professor Sherman for the winds of fate do take him to strange shores, on the mysterious island of Krakatoa peopled by seemingly ordinary people yet with a society unlike our own, closely guarding a secret: the land surrounding the volcano of Krakatoa is teeming with diamonds! As Profosser Sherman easily adapts on the way of life of the island’s settlers, along with being its permanent guest and his vow of silence concerning their limitless wealth, so are the readers get to see the life on Krakatoa with their Gourmet Government and their various inventions as silly it may sound it makes Krakatoans live a life of ease and comfort. As Du Bois pokes fun and amuses his young readers with the islanders’ unusual way of life, he likewise presents an ideal society, a Utopia where the residents work together and serve one another in attempt to make life on the island better and along with it manage to snatch some thematic glimpses on the subject of human greed in a community where money, in this case the precious gems, is basically rendered worthless — yes, they have loads of diamonds but on the island what can you possibly buy with it when almost everybody already has it? Ultimately, in the end it seems to me that Du Bois’s belief of a good, if not perfect, life shares some similarities with Professor Sherman’s: something in between perfection can only exist in constant face of danger (characterized by the risky way of life on the foot of the constantly shaky volcanic grounds of Krakatoa), and the foolishness that exists in the safety of every day life — a life apart that, like a balloon in the air, goes wherever which way the wind takes you. “It goes to show how wonderful ballooning can be. You can never tell where the wind will blow you, what fantastic good fortune they can lead you to. Long live balloons!” —Professor Wiliam Waterman Sherman _________________________ Book Details: Book #31 for 2011 Published by Viking Press. (Hardcover, 1947 Re-issued Edition) 180 pages Read on: August, 2 2011 My Rating: ★★★ [See this review on my book blog Dark Chest of Wonders and for many others.]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Cowley

    My guess is I was ten years old the first time I read this book, and I absolutely loved it. Fast forward to today, and the book still worked for me. It's an adventure story (can a retired old schoolteacher travel around the world in 40 days on a balloon and survive a huge volcanic eruption?), a treasure story (think bucketfuls of gigantic diamonds), and a story of science (exploring the Victorian obsession with ballooning, as well as other inventions such as electric wiring, in both realistic an My guess is I was ten years old the first time I read this book, and I absolutely loved it. Fast forward to today, and the book still worked for me. It's an adventure story (can a retired old schoolteacher travel around the world in 40 days on a balloon and survive a huge volcanic eruption?), a treasure story (think bucketfuls of gigantic diamonds), and a story of science (exploring the Victorian obsession with ballooning, as well as other inventions such as electric wiring, in both realistic and fantastical ways). This is a quick read as it's targeted towards children/young adults. Written today it would likely be categorized as middle grade. The book uses a frame story--it's a story told to an audience who also becomes a character, and as such it manages to break the "show don't tell" rule, largely successfully. The first quarter of the book dragged a bit for me (I kept thinking, "get to the story already") but I think this was mostly because I listened to it as a book on CD.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Charming! I've seen this book around my whole life, because . . . well, it's an old Newbery winner. It never looked that interesting to me, just something I thought I might get around to eventually in my quest to read all the Newberies. A couple of months back I found a like new copy at the library sale for a quarter, so I thought, Hey why not? Read it aloud to my kids, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. The illustrations were perfect, since he goes into a lot of technical details about hot air ba Charming! I've seen this book around my whole life, because . . . well, it's an old Newbery winner. It never looked that interesting to me, just something I thought I might get around to eventually in my quest to read all the Newberies. A couple of months back I found a like new copy at the library sale for a quarter, so I thought, Hey why not? Read it aloud to my kids, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. The illustrations were perfect, since he goes into a lot of technical details about hot air balloons and various contraptions, and the detailed pictures and diagrams helped a great deal. The story was fun, and different, and very appealing (Hot air balloons! Volcanoes! Diamond mines! Government by restaurant!). Old-fashioned without being horribly outdated, basically.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Retro Book Review The Twenty-One Balloons By William Pène du Bois I am a creature of habit. I order the same thing every time I go to a restaurant, I stick to a routine, and my favorites are my favorites. Many of the books I fell in love with as a child are, to this day, still my favorites. I was once told by a colleague that many of the books I enjoy are “crusty”. I believe a great book never goes out of style; it becomes a classic that can stand the test of time. Although The Twenty-One Balloons Retro Book Review The Twenty-One Balloons By William Pène du Bois I am a creature of habit. I order the same thing every time I go to a restaurant, I stick to a routine, and my favorites are my favorites. Many of the books I fell in love with as a child are, to this day, still my favorites. I was once told by a colleague that many of the books I enjoy are “crusty”. I believe a great book never goes out of style; it becomes a classic that can stand the test of time. Although The Twenty-One Balloons is an old classic, it is new to me. Maybe it was the balloon on the cover that reminded me of my hometown summer festival; Maybe it was the giant diamond on the front (diamonds are a girl’s best friend). Whatever it was, this book kept drawing me in. I finally got around to reading it and I’m so glad I did. My students had just read a piece on deadly volcanos and were very fascinated by the volcano at Krakatau that completely blew away an island and caused tsunamis in distant villages. They asked great questions like: “What if this happened today?” or “I wonder what it would have been like to live there?” It was a total coincidence that I happened to pick up The Twenty-One Balloons that very week. William Pène du Bois paints a picture of what could have happened that fateful year at Krakatau. Professor Sherman is attempting to travel around the world in his hydrogen balloon. Very early in his trip, he runs in to trouble and finds himself washed up on an unknown beach. He awakes and is greeted by a man in a very fancy suit, which is odd since he seems to be surrounded by beach and jungle. He is no sooner swept away to the middle of that jungle where is introduced to a whole village of families living in a self-created utopian society. We learn that the village is supported by the abundant supplies of diamonds that lie in the caverns below the ground. The islanders keep the jungle thick around them so they can live in secrecy and never be discovered by passing ships. Everything is perfect. The only down-side to living on the island is the occasional volcanic rumble, but the inhabitants have learned to live with it and go about their daily lives. They even have a perfect plan should the “big” eruption ever come. History gives us the facts about the island; the “big” eruption does come. Professor Sherman goes on to tell his story, but does anyone believe him when all the evidence has been blown away? I found myself completely lost in this book. I wanted to be on that island. My willing suspension of disbelief was present and it felt like it could be real. I wanted to talk to Professor Sherman. I was so anxious to share the book with my class and discuss the possibilities. It’s a great classroom read-aloud. The Twenty-One Balloons is now on my list of all-time favorites. It’s a classic that has stood the test of time. It will, and should be, enjoyed by many readers to come. Sarah Jones is a fifth grade- Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. She lives in Battle Creek, Michigan with her husband and two children. She is passionate about reading and developing children into lifelong readers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luisa Knight

    I was not anticipating loving this book as much as I did! It reads like a classic, is lighthearted and entirely fun! Especially with how the pictures really illustrate some of the comical inventions and incidents. A real treat that you and your family shouldn't miss! Cleanliness: Children's Bad Words Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 1 Incident: stupid Name Calling - 1 Incident: stupid fool Religious Profanities - 2 Incidents: Good Lord, great heavens Romance Related - 2 Incidents: The word “sexes” i I was not anticipating loving this book as much as I did! It reads like a classic, is lighthearted and entirely fun! Especially with how the pictures really illustrate some of the comical inventions and incidents. A real treat that you and your family shouldn't miss! Cleanliness: Children's Bad Words Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 1 Incident: stupid Name Calling - 1 Incident: stupid fool Religious Profanities - 2 Incidents: Good Lord, great heavens Romance Related - 2 Incidents: The word “sexes” is used - to mean gender. “Bizarre nude arrival on Krakatoa.” Illustrations - 1 Incident: a lady with a low, revealing dress Attitudes/Disobedience - 1 Incident: A man lies as he doesn’t want it known that he teaches. Conversation Topics - 7 Incidents: A sick/weak man is given brandy. People try to entice a man with spirits. A man smokes a cigar. “Krakatoa was like riding on the back of some giant prehistoric animal.” “I remember twenty pops like champagne corks in rapid succession.” “Closer to a sensation of hell than anything we had ever experienced.” A Negro clown is mentioned. Parent Takeaway This story is full of adventure. A man sails off in a hot air balloon, gets caught in an ocean storm and finds himself marooned on an island peopled with rich inventors. While being shown their homes and latest achievements, the volcano on the island begins to erupt. Sure to engage younger kids too! **Like my reviews? Then you should follow me! Because I have hundreds more just like this one. With each review, I provide a Cleanliness Report, mentioning any objectionable content I come across so that parents and/or conscientious readers (like me) can determine beforehand whether they want to read a book or not. Content surprises are super annoying, especially when you’re 100+ pages in, so here’s my attempt to help you avoid that! So Follow or Friend me here on GoodReads! You’ll see my updates as I’m reading and know which books I’m liking and what I’m not finishing and why. You’ll also be able to utilize my library for looking up titles to see whether the book you’re thinking about reading next has any objectionable content or not. From swear words, to romance, to bad attitudes (in children’s books), I cover it all!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jered

    I'm quite surprised this book was awarded a Newbery. It started off with a bit of enjoyable whimsy, quickly degenerated into a quagmire of mediocre fantasy, and grew steadily into a punishing crescendo of monotony. The last several chapters actually hurt. It felt something like reading an uninteresting and predictable list of inventory. Imagine slogging through a ship's cargo manifest. But not a cool ship...like a pirate's like a freight load of something utterly unamazing...like bananas I'm quite surprised this book was awarded a Newbery. It started off with a bit of enjoyable whimsy, quickly degenerated into a quagmire of mediocre fantasy, and grew steadily into a punishing crescendo of monotony. The last several chapters actually hurt. It felt something like reading an uninteresting and predictable list of inventory. Imagine slogging through a ship's cargo manifest. But not a cool ship...like a pirate's like a freight load of something utterly unamazing...like bananas. Page after page of descriptions of the size, weight, and volume of crates of bananas. That's about how exciting this ridiculous story was. It's not at all the tale of high adventure it's purported to be.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Ziemer

    William Pene du Bois' book is categorized as a young adult book, though it can easily become a beloved story for all ages. Though this book was originally written in the 1940s, it is a timeless classic. Winner of the Newbery Medal, this story can truly be read over and over again and still maintain the excitement. I found this story completely engaging from the beginning. The characters are unique and quirky with something to hide-making the story a fun and thrilling read. The civilization as we William Pene du Bois' book is categorized as a young adult book, though it can easily become a beloved story for all ages. Though this book was originally written in the 1940s, it is a timeless classic. Winner of the Newbery Medal, this story can truly be read over and over again and still maintain the excitement. I found this story completely engaging from the beginning. The characters are unique and quirky with something to hide-making the story a fun and thrilling read. The civilization as well as the island seem to have appeared out of nowhere and the mystery of it all kept me reading to find out the secrets of the island and it's inhabitants. I read this book as a younger teen and absolutely loved it. Being so, I decided to share it with my fifth grade class last year. We were reading nonfiction information about the real island of Krakatoa and this book fit into comparing the fiction story to the nonfiction information. The kids really enjoyed the outrageously hilarious events that occurred in the book. I highly recommend this book to readers of fantasy and adventure. It is a great read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Just a guess on the time I read it. It was definitely 5th grade. It was definitely the most memorable book I read during adolescence. I credit this book as the first book I really, truly, loved. The first book, gradually followed by many others, that made me realize reading could be fun. Sometimes it almost feels like it was the first book I completed, the first book I held in my memory, but as I go back I realize that isn't true. There were plenty books before, I'm sure, mainly of the Beverly C Just a guess on the time I read it. It was definitely 5th grade. It was definitely the most memorable book I read during adolescence. I credit this book as the first book I really, truly, loved. The first book, gradually followed by many others, that made me realize reading could be fun. Sometimes it almost feels like it was the first book I completed, the first book I held in my memory, but as I go back I realize that isn't true. There were plenty books before, I'm sure, mainly of the Beverly Cleary type, Romona Beezus stories, which I know I was amused by, but I wasn't DRAWN to them. Before the 21 Balloons, and the Tripods Trilogy after that, I would almost rather be doing anything else besides reading. Reading was boring; reading was a chore. Reading was what you did when you couldn't come up with anything else to do. All that started to change in 6th grade when I had to read "The White Mountains" for class. And "The 21 Balloons" was the hint before that, that my feelings about reading would change. This is a most delightful story, about Professor William Waterman Sherman (for a brief time W. W. Sherman was my alter ego when I began to write myself) and his adventures on the island and community of Krakatoa, which he discovers after his own hot-air balloon crash lands there. On Krakatoa, there is a small utopia-like society, of families (named by letters of the alphabet!) who surround themselves in all manner of nifty inventions. They live a peaceful idyllic life, made possible by the secret of the diamond mines of Krakatoa. But alas, Krakatoa houses a dormant volcano, and you can probably guess that the volcano does not play nice for the entire story. This book sits atop the pyramid of all my other favorite books. And William Pene Dubois was the recipient of my first (and not my last) fan letter. I adore this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    “Half of this story is true and the other half might very well have happened.” Our story kicks off with the exciting discovery and rescue of a sophisticated professor named William Waterman Sherman, who is stranded in the North Atlantic amid the wreckage of twenty-one sadly deflated balloons. It's the first sighting of this adventurous professor since is departure from San Francisco three weeks earlier. But that day he'd floated off the pier in one large balloon, not twenty one. How did he come t “Half of this story is true and the other half might very well have happened.” Our story kicks off with the exciting discovery and rescue of a sophisticated professor named William Waterman Sherman, who is stranded in the North Atlantic amid the wreckage of twenty-one sadly deflated balloons. It's the first sighting of this adventurous professor since is departure from San Francisco three weeks earlier. But that day he'd floated off the pier in one large balloon, not twenty one. How did he come to be helplessly adrift in this odd array of debris? Sherman's fans in America are desperate for an explanation, and after some rest and pampering for the retired teacher, they get it. Thus the exciting tale of The Twenty-One Balloons is born, masterfully told from the perspective of this eccentric and imaginative old man. Apparently Sherman's change of plans is all thanks to a seagull who punctured his balloon whilst he floated, carefree, above the Pacific. But it was all for the best in the end; Sherman's necessary crash landing led to the discovery of a secret island called Krakatoa, inhabited only by twenty families...and one incredible treasure store of diamonds. The lifestyle on this almost-magical island takes wealth, invention, and ingenuity to unprecedented (and extremely humorous) heights. Sherman's riveted audience only encourages his far-fetched descriptions and elaborate tales of what took place on the enchanting island...until the next catastrophe that led to the discovery of Sherman and the balloon wreckage in the first place. The Twenty-One Balloons is one of my favorite humorous family novels. Bursting with creativity and comical descriptions, it's the perfect lazy-summer-afternoon read for kids of all ages. Recommended read-aloud age: all ages Recommended read-alone age: 8 and up My blog: www.oursureanchor.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katja

    3 stars & 3/10 books. I had a hard time with this book. I started off really enjoying it—it was so mock-serious and hilarious. The Professor was brilliant but also hilarious. But I had a really hard time with the settlement on Krakatoa. I just read a book about it and I was just really bugged by the author’s taking a real island and turning it into this fantastical, unrealistic place. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if it hadn’t been for my reading that other (realistic) book about 3 stars & 3/10 books. I had a hard time with this book. I started off really enjoying it—it was so mock-serious and hilarious. The Professor was brilliant but also hilarious. But I had a really hard time with the settlement on Krakatoa. I just read a book about it and I was just really bugged by the author’s taking a real island and turning it into this fantastical, unrealistic place. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if it hadn’t been for my reading that other (realistic) book about the island. I was also a bit annoyed by a couple things—the professor’s landing on the island naked, the lengthy balloon details which went over my head, and an image of a woman in a low-necked dress. I may try this book again in the future, but I just couldn’t appreciate it right now, humorous as it was. A Favourite Humorous Quote: “The underbrush was thick and wild, quite similar to the untouched jungle life found on any Pacific island. My host walked through this in a most peculiar way. He was holding up his pantlegs and gingerly picking the right spots on which to rest his feet so as not to disturb the creases in his suit. My suit being a borrowed one, I felt that I had to treat it with equal care. We must have made a funny sight: two gentlemen in white suits and white bowlers tiptoeing through the jungle.”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Bryant

    This is one of those classic children's books that adults can thoroughly enjoy, too! I'm very interested in hot air balloons at the moment, so it was fun to read a story that features them, explains how they work, and shows what it's like to fly in one. I also loved how the families on Krakatoa were depicted, alphabetically and with food from different countries, and oh so orderly. The story touches on educational yet simple and interesting explanations of economics, science, architecture, geogr This is one of those classic children's books that adults can thoroughly enjoy, too! I'm very interested in hot air balloons at the moment, so it was fun to read a story that features them, explains how they work, and shows what it's like to fly in one. I also loved how the families on Krakatoa were depicted, alphabetically and with food from different countries, and oh so orderly. The story touches on educational yet simple and interesting explanations of economics, science, architecture, geography, and cultural studies. And history! The eruption of Krakatoa really happened. Thus this book could be the jumping-off point for a myriad of different studies. But above all, it's just plain entertaining.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Schrecengost

    I read this for school years ago. I really enjoyed it, it's funny and just a really good book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stacy268

    I picked this one up for a course that I am taking, and it certainly elicited the most responses from my friends and colleagues. It seems that everyone has a great childhood memory of this book. The same was true of my classmates...positive reviews across the board. William Walter Sherman wants to take a balloon voyage around the world. He has been a teacher of mathematics for many years, and after all of that time surrounded by children, a bit of peace is just what the doctor ordered. Professor I picked this one up for a course that I am taking, and it certainly elicited the most responses from my friends and colleagues. It seems that everyone has a great childhood memory of this book. The same was true of my classmates...positive reviews across the board. William Walter Sherman wants to take a balloon voyage around the world. He has been a teacher of mathematics for many years, and after all of that time surrounded by children, a bit of peace is just what the doctor ordered. Professor Sherman's voyage does not go exactly as planned. Only 3 weeks after leaving the California coast, he is fished out of the Atlantic Ocean clinging to the debris of 20 balloons and a bunch of platforms. Everybody in America wants to hear the Professor's story, including the President himself. But Professor Sherman has other ideas, and he simply refuses to utter a word until he is back in his hometown of San Fransisco and in front of the members of the Western American Explorers' Club. All of America waits as he is whisked cross country by train. Is the story worth all of the hoopla? Indeed it is! William Pene du Bois penned a hilarious tale of exploration, accidental discovery, sheer ridiculousness and adventure that has stood up to the test of time. Complete with secret islands, volcanoes, diamond mines, kooky governments and eccentric characters, readers today turn the pages just as quickly as children likely did in the late 1940s. In fact, the copy that I took off the shelves at school is covered in penciled in graffiti declaring it "The Best Book In The World", and "Wonderful". What could be a better review than that?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kasha

    This book was one I found recommended in one of the summer issues of the children's Friend magazine, so I knew that it would not be offensive. I think there was an asterisk next to it in the Friend that said they made brief mention of drinking alcohol. I really liked the book. It did happen to be on the AR reading list and it is a 6.8, so a more difficult book. But it's very imaginative and adventurous. The protagonist is male, but I think this is a story that both boys and girls would enjoy. It i This book was one I found recommended in one of the summer issues of the children's Friend magazine, so I knew that it would not be offensive. I think there was an asterisk next to it in the Friend that said they made brief mention of drinking alcohol. I really liked the book. It did happen to be on the AR reading list and it is a 6.8, so a more difficult book. But it's very imaginative and adventurous. The protagonist is male, but I think this is a story that both boys and girls would enjoy. It is about a man who leaves his home via balloon to float from one place to another wherever the wind decides to carry him. He is found, later, having crash landed in the ocean and brought safely to civilization on the East Coast. But he refuses to tell his story until he is in front of the Western American Explorers' club in San Francisco. His insistence to only tell the story at that venue serves to increase the curiousity of the public until finally they find a way for him to be brought to San Francisco. I enjoyed the author's clever way of introducing the story. It's a very good book, but still, it doesn't quite have everything, for me. I'm still in search of more awesome five star stories. The last five star book I read was Across Five Aprils, and that's not the kind of book my kids would enjoy. I guess I realize that whatever I'm looking for in a book isn't exactly the same as what my children would be looking for. I do think I'll recommend this book to my son. He would probably really like it, and the author's tactic at building up the reader's curiousity in the beginning will be the perfect way to get his attention.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    The 1948 Newbery Winner, this lighthearted adventure tale blends fact and fiction to craft a humorous and fanciful tale that informs and entertains. The protagonist, William Waterman Sherman, leaves San Francisco to fly across the Pacific in a single balloon (inspired by real-life airship pioneers such as Henri Giffard and Felix Nadar). He is found later adrift in the Atlantic, near death, clinging to the wreckage of not one but twenty balloons. After an amusing, suspense-building delay in recou The 1948 Newbery Winner, this lighthearted adventure tale blends fact and fiction to craft a humorous and fanciful tale that informs and entertains. The protagonist, William Waterman Sherman, leaves San Francisco to fly across the Pacific in a single balloon (inspired by real-life airship pioneers such as Henri Giffard and Felix Nadar). He is found later adrift in the Atlantic, near death, clinging to the wreckage of not one but twenty balloons. After an amusing, suspense-building delay in recounting the story of his travels, Sherman finally tells it all: of an unlimited supply of boulder-size mines, a secret colony of billionaires on Krakatoa, a calendar based on the world’s cuisines, inventive architecture, and the real-life explosion that destroyed the island in 1883. This is close to the ideal children’s book: fantastic enough to inspiring and beg emulation (who hasn’t dreamed of unlimited wealth and fantastic contraptions?), but grounded enough in reality to reward any further curiosity about some of the subjects or events, and with a crafty everyman hero who revels in all manner of adventure. Indeed, a sequel would not have been amiss.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Newbery Medal Winner--1948 I thought I might like this adventure story, as I love the idea of traveling around the world in a balloon. This one started out promising, with a man found at sea who had been travelling around in a small house kept aloft by a giant balloon (it reminded me of the movie Up. Unfortunately, it was less adventure story and more fantastical--much of the book is just Professor Sherman describing life on Krakatoa, where he crash landed. So instead of exciting adventures, we ge Newbery Medal Winner--1948 I thought I might like this adventure story, as I love the idea of traveling around the world in a balloon. This one started out promising, with a man found at sea who had been travelling around in a small house kept aloft by a giant balloon (it reminded me of the movie Up. Unfortunately, it was less adventure story and more fantastical--much of the book is just Professor Sherman describing life on Krakatoa, where he crash landed. So instead of exciting adventures, we get pages of description and explanation for why/how these people live on a volcano. Basically, a group of former San Franciscans built a bunch of restaurants there, renamed themselves letters of the alphabet, and lived an idyllic life with no crime, jobs, school, etc. Oh...and they somehow made amazing inventions like beds that re-sheet themselves, tables and chairs that rise from the floor, and houses built on diamonds so they never move when the dormant volcano rumbles. Oh, and giant balloon-machines...one of which can carry 80 people if the volcano ever explodes. It just seemed silly and boring and really wasn't my thing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lili

    This is my favorite book! The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois was read to me in my gifted, or TAG class. It is about a retired math teacher named Professor Sherman who wants to be alone. So he has a giant hot-air-balloon built for him that has a basket house attached. Brings to mind the movie "Up", dosen`t it? He plans to live in it for a year, using trash for ballast. But those plans are spoiled because a seagull pokes a hole in his balloon, forcing him to crash land on the island o This is my favorite book! The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois was read to me in my gifted, or TAG class. It is about a retired math teacher named Professor Sherman who wants to be alone. So he has a giant hot-air-balloon built for him that has a basket house attached. Brings to mind the movie "Up", dosen`t it? He plans to live in it for a year, using trash for ballast. But those plans are spoiled because a seagull pokes a hole in his balloon, forcing him to crash land on the island of Krakatoa. 20 families live there, lettered A to T. (My favorite part of the book is when Mr. F. tells Profesor Sherman why not to change his name. You decide why!) In each house has a mom, a dad, a boy and a girl. There are diamond mines there. They live under a `resturaunt government`where each family has a restraunt and everyone goes to each one day. I love this book because it`s exciting and the end when they escape is exciting too. If you haven`t read this, go get yourself a copy! I should go too because I loaned my copy and it`s not back yet. 5-star worthy!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Johanna Hanson

    Stefan's review: I really liked this. The volcano erupting was my favorite part. When he crashed is also a fun part.There were diamonds in the mountain.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Just as great a read as it was when I was in elementary school. I was surprised at how much of the book I recalled. I had thought the Professor spent longer on the island though. It was only 4 days!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joah Pearson

    Fun in a really weird kinda way.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annerlee

    A short and quirky tale about a retired teacher who sets off in a balloon to get away from it all for a year and lands on Krakatoa just before it explodes. The beginning was really good fun, I could just imagine it as a colourful cartoon in the style of 'Up'. The descriptions of what he found on Krakatoa were really interesting, there were some really good ideas. The story involves lots of balloons in various ingenious guises.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alina Borger

    Kate DiCamillo recommended this 1948 Newbery-Award winner, so I picked it up and absolutely could not believe how charmed I was. It has nothing in common with what we might call "children's literature" today, and yet the whimsy of it--the odd childlikeness of adults and adultlikeness of children made me understand why it was once considered "kid lit."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    ??? childhood: 080219 i remember this now! i loved this as a kid!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    As I’ve been reading books for this class, I’ve had a little notebook next to me to take notes on things I’d like to talk about in my post about the book: the very first thing I wrote down for the Twenty-One Balloons was “I’m SO excited about rereading this; it’s been maybe 15 years.” I loved then and still love the way the book opens – we’ve met our main character, albeit briefly, and are on the edge of our seats, waiting along with the rest of the world, to hear his tale. I really think this s As I’ve been reading books for this class, I’ve had a little notebook next to me to take notes on things I’d like to talk about in my post about the book: the very first thing I wrote down for the Twenty-One Balloons was “I’m SO excited about rereading this; it’s been maybe 15 years.” I loved then and still love the way the book opens – we’ve met our main character, albeit briefly, and are on the edge of our seats, waiting along with the rest of the world, to hear his tale. I really think this suspenseful opening stands the test of time well. It certainly still circulates in my library – we have four circulating copies, and I had to put a hold on the copy I read to get my hands on it. Definitely not something that happens to Newbery books often for us (except for newer ones, of course). Which president was it that was so hospitable to Professor Sherman – Chester A. Arthur! Does it seem odd to anyone else that Sherman’s time on the ship was to be paid to the captain? He was rescued! Did anyone else catch the treatment of the Indians who received the cupola from the Explorer’s League? Amusing & refreshing after reading the Voyages of Dr. Dolittle. With all the wonderful adventure and inventions in this book – I can’t help but notice this time around that the Professor is just a crotchety old man who wants to be left completely alone – he even lies to his new friends on Krakatoa Island MULTIPLE times to avoid having to do work that he doesn’t want to anymore (schoolteaching), DESPITE the fact that they have invited him into their society and given him a share of the diamonds – without giving him a day of the month to cook on! He has basically NO duties on the island, except to stay there for the rest of his life, and he can’t even be bothered to set aside a few hours a day to teach 40 children who have never had an education? Obviously, this isn’t something I noticed as a child, because I loved the Professor (though I did find drawings of him a little scary, they reminded me of Professor Guteberg’s corpse from the Journey to the Center of the Earth). The whole situation/relationship between the Krakatoans and the Professor peeves me a little bit. Mr. F. welcomes him onto the island, politely informing him he is to be a captive for the rest of his life, but that he will not need to do any of the work the other islanders do – he is a guest. A guest who gets an equal share of all the diamonds. He’s politely excluded from the society when Mr. F. tells him he cannot be given the name of Mr. U – but the professor is content to remain a “guest” who helps with fun things like the balloon merry go-round and the eating of delicious food, swimming in the ocean, and getting a terrific suntan. Loved how the utopian society Mr. M. set up immediately turned capitalistic. Why didn’t I notice these things as a kid? I did some research on bumper cars – it seems they were invented in 1919 - the same general idea as the armchairs in the M house. The whole book to me as a child, I think, was outlined somewhat on page 110 – where Mr F. and the professor talk about the challenges between mechanical progress and elegance; technology and art. I would and do recommend this book to children today, when the book is on the shelf! (like I said earlier, it hardly ever is.) I haven’t yet read Certain’s article, but when I do, I’ll be back here to post about it 

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bailey Mckeon

    William Pene du Bois combines an adventurous man with the gifted people of an island to take you on a creative journey through peculiar situations and wonderful inventions. Whether enjoying the view in the Giant Balloon Life Raft, listening with the rest of the world as Professor Sherman tells his tale, or simply flipping the pages of a book reading through the story, everyone is taken on an adventure through loyalty, wonderful characters, and frankly fantastic styles in The Twenty-One Balloons William Pene du Bois combines an adventurous man with the gifted people of an island to take you on a creative journey through peculiar situations and wonderful inventions. Whether enjoying the view in the Giant Balloon Life Raft, listening with the rest of the world as Professor Sherman tells his tale, or simply flipping the pages of a book reading through the story, everyone is taken on an adventure through loyalty, wonderful characters, and frankly fantastic styles in The Twenty-One Balloons. In this book, the readers come to such a peculiar island along with Professor William Waterman Sherman to meet such wonderful characters and their ways on the island. Their simplicity is fantastic, for it creates a unique atmosphere. For example, on the island lives twenty families, each named after a letter in the alphabet. Like the F’s, Professor Sherman’s great friends. The father is named Mr.F, mother, Mrs.F, son, F1, and daughter, F2. And their name, F, resembles their category, making their restaurant a French restaurant. Simplicity makes the Island so complex and idiosyncratic. These ideas the author created gave this book some of its tone and developed the word choice for his writing. Word choice, it can come in handy to develop a character or scene, or even to frankly give the book tone. It can improve writing, or absolutely destroy it, and in Bois’ case, it gave so much more value to The Twenty-One Balloons. In many passages, the word choice gave flavor to the sentence. With little descriptive word that are quite complex and add to the story. Also, fantastic word choice was seen throughout the book to describe the inventions, and perhaps just some sights Professor Sherman saw, and gave some great vocabulary to build up William Waterman Sherman’s character, an astonishingly brilliant man who has a flair for adventures and is loyal to everyone and anyone he crosses paths with. A main theme seen in The Twenty-One Balloons is loyalty, Professor Sherman’s and others’ faithfulness to each other. For example, at the beginning of the book Professor Sherman refuses to explain the secrets of his journey until he has told the members of the Western American Explorers’ Club of his adventure. This had all of the people biting their fingernails just waiting to hear Sherman’s tale. Loyalty is also shown when the F’s volunteer to stay aboard the Giant Balloon Raft, which of course cheered Professor Sherman up quite a bit. Shown throughout the entire adventure, loyalty is a term that is expressed greatly in The Twenty-One Balloons. In conclusion, all of the styles, literary elements, and word choice Bois included in his book creates The Twenty-One Balloons - a hot-air balloon ride just waiting to take the reader on an adventure when the cover opens.

  27. 4 out of 5

    TPK

    This past week I've been visiting my mother as she recuperates from surgery, and as a way to pass the time I've been reading her The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois. She'd never read it before, and it's not a bad book to read aloud. In 1883, Professor William Waterman Sherman of San Francisco, a teacher of arithmetic for many years, decides upon his retirement that he will set forth in a huge specially-made balloon to take a trip around the world. Fate decrees a slightly different cou This past week I've been visiting my mother as she recuperates from surgery, and as a way to pass the time I've been reading her The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois. She'd never read it before, and it's not a bad book to read aloud. In 1883, Professor William Waterman Sherman of San Francisco, a teacher of arithmetic for many years, decides upon his retirement that he will set forth in a huge specially-made balloon to take a trip around the world. Fate decrees a slightly different course, and he lands instead on the volcanic island of Krakatoa -- a place believed by the rest of the world to be uninhabited. What Professor Sherman discovers there, and what subsequently happens to Krakatoa, is the meat of the book. I remember reading this book when I was young, and thinking: why couldn't a Gourmet Government work? It sounded like fun. Reading the book through adult eyes, I see things a little differently -- a number of suggestions made in the book simply don't make sense in real life -- but it's still a fun read. One of the things I didn't realize when I was a child is that The Twenty-One Balloons is, in essence, a utopian story for children. The hidden civilization upon Krakatoa is explained in full to the outside traveler by one of the natives, very much in the style of the original Utopia. The character development and description of gee-whiz inventions are reminiscent of both Jules Verne and Roald Dahl. Aside from its logical implausibilities, The Twenty-One Balloons shows its age primarily in terms of pacing. The book is slower than a number of current books, taking time to show and explain scenes that probably would have been passed over by more modern authors. But for all that, it's fun and engaging, and I can see why it won the Newbery Medal.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Title: The Twenty-One Balloons Author: William Pene duBois Genre: Young Adult Challenges: 101 Books in 1001 Days Challenge, The Naming Convention Challenge, Book Around the States Challenge, Read and Review Challenge 2010, 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge, 100 + Reading Challenge, Young Adult Reading Challenge, YA Through the Decades, Audio Book Challenge 2010, Pages Read 2010, A to Z challenge, 1001 Childrens book Before I Grow Up Rating: 4/5 No. of Pages: Audio (192) Published: 194 Title: The Twenty-One Balloons Author: William Pene duBois Genre: Young Adult Challenges: 101 Books in 1001 Days Challenge, The Naming Convention Challenge, Book Around the States Challenge, Read and Review Challenge 2010, 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge, 100 + Reading Challenge, Young Adult Reading Challenge, YA Through the Decades, Audio Book Challenge 2010, Pages Read 2010, A to Z challenge, 1001 Childrens book Before I Grow Up Rating: 4/5 No. of Pages: Audio (192) Published: 1947 ( Newbery Medal) Back Cover: After years of teaching math to reluctant young students in San Francisco, Professor William Sherman Waterman wants a change. He plans a wonderful adventure: he will spend a year sailing around the world in a giant balloon. With his friends waving good-bye on a sunny day in August 1883, he gently flies his balloon above the rowas of city rooftops and floats toward the Pacific Ocean. But only three weeks later, a freighter in the Atlantic Ocean sights a group of 20 destroyed balloons – and the professor clinging to the wreckage. His tale of a marvelous island harboring unbelievable wealth in the Pacific Ocean and a terrifying disaster there stuns the world. Could this incredible report be true? Mine: Just like the days of Around the World in 80 Days – the balloon is the key point of the story. The Professor can hardly wait for retirement, when he can leave on his long balloon ride. His plan is to stay in the air for a year, unfortunately he doesn’t make it and lives on an mysterious island with a world of it’s own. When the island suffers a great volcano eruption, he is sent on his way so that he can tell the story of the island and it’s riches.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    What a peculiar story! William Sherman, tired of teaching ungrateful children, decides to travel around the world in a hot air balloon. Sherman succeeds, but not in the way he'd anticipated. Unexpectedly, Sherman crashes on the island of Krakatoa. Instead of finding a deserted island, however, he comes upon a strange community of people. The community has a source of wealth, a magnificent diamond mine, that allows the people to do anything they wish. The people have created a zany civilization fo What a peculiar story! William Sherman, tired of teaching ungrateful children, decides to travel around the world in a hot air balloon. Sherman succeeds, but not in the way he'd anticipated. Unexpectedly, Sherman crashes on the island of Krakatoa. Instead of finding a deserted island, however, he comes upon a strange community of people. The community has a source of wealth, a magnificent diamond mine, that allows the people to do anything they wish. The people have created a zany civilization founded upon the idea of restaurants, eating out at a different family's restaurant every night. Sherman is shown novel designs for homes and odd inventions that have come from the clever minds of the island's residents. Despite their apparent creativity and great wealth, the people choose to live on an island that, every hour of the day, threatens their lives. And, of course, as one might expect, the moment comes when Krakatoa blows. Somehow, the people are able to escape without harm and Sherman is able to return home to San Francisco. Very, very peculiar book. And what an odd coincidence that Twenty-One Balloons is my twenty-first book of the year!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tobinsfavorite

    I read this a long time ago in a rocking chair by the window in an upstairs bedroom at my grandmother's house; I couldn't have been older than 7 or 8 the last time I stayed there. I recently found the audiobook in the library and snapped it up. The book is not the 5-star wonder I remember, but it is a fine read for the young (or people who can read young people's books without scorn), and I was pleased to revisit it. The first thing I noticed was the reader, who also read _Wicked_. He's darned go I read this a long time ago in a rocking chair by the window in an upstairs bedroom at my grandmother's house; I couldn't have been older than 7 or 8 the last time I stayed there. I recently found the audiobook in the library and snapped it up. The book is not the 5-star wonder I remember, but it is a fine read for the young (or people who can read young people's books without scorn), and I was pleased to revisit it. The first thing I noticed was the reader, who also read _Wicked_. He's darned good. I like the character of William Waterman Sherman, a retired middle-school math teacher who dreads the idea of teaching children. I was somewhat reminded of Jules Verne in a silly sort of way, of Gilbreth's contraptions in _Cheaper_By_the_Dozen_, and of my friend who shouted at the turn of the century, "Where are the underwater bubble cities??" I also thought of Looney Tunes, so far as the science is concerned. Also, I would very much like to read an essay contrasting Krakatoa's Restaurant Government with John Galt's secret gold-standard town.

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