Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review: The Twenty-One Balloons

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
Publisher: Puffin
Released: 1986 (First published in 1947)
Professor William Waterman Sherman just wants to be alone. So he decides to take a year off and spend it crossing the Pacific Ocean in a hot-air balloon the likes of which no one has ever seen. But when he is found after just three weeks floating in the Atlantic among the wreckage of twenty hot-air balloons, naturally, the world is eager to know what happened. How did he end up with so many balloons . . . and in the wrong ocean?

Taken from Goodreads

Start: 4/30/2014 | End: 5/2/2014 | Pages: 180 | Rating: 3.5 Stars   

My Thoughts:

Ok, so I actually read the 1947 version of this book from the school library, but Goodreads is down today! So I can't update all my information until all that comes back up. Like wow, it's been down for quite a while now.

The Twenty-One Balloons is a classic apparently, like Gulliver's Travels, and it was written for a reason, maybe to promote adventuring in the 1940's. Did you guys know that Gulliver's Travels wasn't meant for children, but actually written as a reflection of the public during the time, and how the people are just trusting the government with everything? So deep. 

Children's book or not, The Twenty-One Balloons is very much all about hot air balloons, the strange island of Krakatoa, and its eccentric but well-mannered inhabitants. To sum it up, Professor Sherman hops on a hot air balloon journey, but his travel of 100 days fall short to 7, when he crash lands on the island of Krakatoa. Instead of being stranded on a deserted island, he finds himself being picked up by Mr. F, one of the island's well-dressed inhabitants. And as Mr. F introduces Professor Sherman to every family, from Mr. and Mrs. A and their two children to Mr. and Mrs. T, he sees extravagant houses matching the architectures of different countries, and tastes the food of every country the family is in charge of. And lastly, how do these families survive so well off? Well off of the millions of diamonds of course! Basically this story is full of food, diamonds, and hot air balloons.

Here's an island full of food have fun = literally the book

This is the most wildly, imaginative children's book I've ever read. Not only that, but it's just how can someone come up with that? Half of the book is spent talking about how each of the 20 families are in charge of meals for one day (in the cycle), and their letter corresponds to the beginning of their country, like the F family is for France and M is for Moroccan. AND WHERE DO THEY GET ALL THIS FOOD? Oh of course we take a couple of diamonds from the mines and then we sail over to different countries each time, sell the diamonds, and then buy a crapload of food and materials to make gigantic fabulous houses and cook amazing meals. 

So very unrealistic. But this was written in 1947, that should explain this. Right? 

You know what I did like though? In my old, tattered library book, there were a decent amount of very, very nice illustrations. If I were to imagine a book from the olden days (haha), this would be the book I would think about. Look at some of these amazing illustrations!

Also, it may just be that this was written so long ago, but this story was basically just telling and not much showing. There was a lot of information, but in a fun...sort of way? The writing style definitely reflects the time period it was written in. I'm not saying this was a bad thing, but just an observation.

Overall, this was a pretty fun read. I read it for book club at school, and we didn't discuss it much because it was an end of the year read. It's a fun children's book, that was written a long time ago! 

I think I'm going to make Classics reviews a thing, in that it's not an actual formal review, but just something I picked up because it's either a classic or required or whatever. I just really wanted to showcase this old book haha! 

Have you been reading any cool classics lately? Or has it been all Jane Austen?

(I've been seeing a lot of Jane Austen on my feed)


  1. I haven't heard of this book until now, but I like the way you described it, it definitely does sound creative. I haven't read any classics in a while. I've never read any Jane Austen simply because I've heard a lot about how her books are boring from classmates, but maybe one day I might.
    For classics, I'd recommend A Snows of Kilimanjaro And Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway. I read it last summer and loved it, and it was the first book of writing I had ever read from him. It's a book of short stories though. I haven't read any of his books XD

    1. Honestly I don't think I would ever pick up a classic on my own, just because there are so many other books I want to read. The only Jane Austen book I HAD to read was Pride and Prejudice, which wasn't too bad. I've also heard from my classmates that Persuasion was incredibly boring as well, but I have yet to read it.

      Ooo Ernest Hemingway! I've only read The Sun Rises by him in school, and I did not like it (at least not as much as Pride and Prejudice), but I love short stories! So I might give that a try.

      And I've never heard of the Twenty-One Balloons until last month, so I completely understand you. It was published in that weird time period where it's still considered old, but not a super classic (is that even a thing?) But you wouldn't see it on that classics shelf in B&N or some other bookstore.

  2. My mum read this to my sister when she was about 6 or something...I don't know why I didn't hear it. (I was probably off being wild and free or something and destroying the house...ah, my sinister youth.) But it sounds really cute and quirky. We own it, soooo...who knows? Maybe I'll get around to picking it up one day. ;) My nephew's probably going to be old enough to read it soon, ha! I'll give it to him and he can tell me about it.

  3. Oh, I love this post and have to admit I don't think I paid much attention to this classic. Hmmm..I love check out children's books and I'm always so fascinated by the artwork, typography ect. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! :) Lovely picutres, and your Winnie the Pooh gif is too cute. I'm hungry...

  4. I don't think I've heard of this. I read a lot of classics a while back, including children's classics, but I don't think I came across this one.

    There are some good "older" books for children, though. I've reviewed Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer on my blog, and I also talked about Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr at one point. The former deals with time travel; the latter is about a girl who affects a dream world with her drawings. Both were really enjoyable, and I find it sad that we're often so focused on the "new" books that we forget the old ones!

  5. I love this blog!! The flash up the top is awesome!!


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