Hot Best Seller

The Twenty-One Balloons (Puffin Modern Classics)

Availability: Ready to download

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.


Compare

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

    Lala BooksandLala

    childhood favourite book re-reads vlog: https://youtu.be/7mD8UUiDnKE childhood favourite book re-reads vlog: https://youtu.be/7mD8UUiDnKE

  2. 5 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.

  3. 5 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. 4 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.]

  5. 4 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Riane

    In hindsight, this book is the reason I’m a communist

  7. 5 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!

  8. 5 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Left Coast Justin

    This one one of my favorites as a kid, one of those books that clued me in to the fact that the world was much larger than my little corner of it. It's like fetish porn for a ten-year-old, with exotic pacific islands, uncontrolled flight (you go where the wind blows you), secret caves, untold riches and earthshaking explosions. I need to dig this up and re-read it some day. This one one of my favorites as a kid, one of those books that clued me in to the fact that the world was much larger than my little corner of it. It's like fetish porn for a ten-year-old, with exotic pacific islands, uncontrolled flight (you go where the wind blows you), secret caves, untold riches and earthshaking explosions. I need to dig this up and re-read it some day.

  10. 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Audiobook performed by John McDonough 4**** This is a classic of children’s literature, for which du Bois was awarded the Newbery Medal. It’s a fantastical adventure story featuring Professor William Waterman Sherman, who leaves San Francisco on Aug 15, 1883, in a balloon, with the intention of going across the Pacific Ocean and enjoying some solitude. Three weeks later he’s picked up in the Atlantic Ocean clinging to wreckage. Once rescued he insists on being transported to San Francisco where h Audiobook performed by John McDonough 4**** This is a classic of children’s literature, for which du Bois was awarded the Newbery Medal. It’s a fantastical adventure story featuring Professor William Waterman Sherman, who leaves San Francisco on Aug 15, 1883, in a balloon, with the intention of going across the Pacific Ocean and enjoying some solitude. Three weeks later he’s picked up in the Atlantic Ocean clinging to wreckage. Once rescued he insists on being transported to San Francisco where he will tell his tale – once and only once – to the Western American Explorer’s Club. What a fun story! Professor Sherman, despite his apparent forethought and preparation for any eventuality, still manages to run afoul of several unanticipated problems … from seagulls to sharks to volcanoes. His time spent on Krakatoa is extraordinary and hard to believe; even in his telling of it, Professor Sherman seems amazed and incredulous. The illustrations (also by du Bois) help by providing a visual representation to go along with some of the detailed descriptions of the various inventions. I think parents and teachers would have a great time allowing children to explore their imaginations, while explaining the realities of science. But I WOULD like that bed with endless clean sheets! (And having already cut and polished diamonds handily about would be pretty nice as well…) John McDonough does a marvelous job of reading the audio version. His dramatic performance lends a sense of awe, amazement, excitement, and danger as the scenes require.

  12. 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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    Great family readaloud.

  14. 4 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.

  15. 4 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

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kailey (Luminous Libro)

    Professor Sherman is sick of teaching mathematics to unruly children in San Francisco, so he decides to take a year-long balloon ride around the world and never touch land in all that time. However, within days his balloon crashes near the mysterious island of Krakatoa, and he discovers the secrets of the island where a most unusual society is flourishing and fabulous diamonds are available to anyone. This is such a fun and entertaining story! The plot has all these hilarious details all about th Professor Sherman is sick of teaching mathematics to unruly children in San Francisco, so he decides to take a year-long balloon ride around the world and never touch land in all that time. However, within days his balloon crashes near the mysterious island of Krakatoa, and he discovers the secrets of the island where a most unusual society is flourishing and fabulous diamonds are available to anyone. This is such a fun and entertaining story! The plot has all these hilarious details all about the reception for Professor Sherman when he returns to San Francisco, his arrangements for his balloon house and how he planned his balloon trip, and the strange society that lives on Krakatoa and how they organize their days. Most of the narrative is explaining things, so there isn't a ton of action, but the descriptions are so wild and interesting that you never feel bored. The writing style is really excellent, drawing the reader in with all these funny anecdotal episodes and details. The writing is vivid and concise. I really enjoyed it, and could barely put the book down! I think one of the funniest things in the book is that Professor Sherman tries to hide that he is a math teacher from the Krakatoans. He doesn't want to be forced back into teaching after he has finally retired! As a teacher myself, I can understand. haha! This book is such a delight to read. If you need something short and light-hearted and fun, this is the book for you!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Every once in awhile a book surprises me. After the horror of Poe’s hot air balloon stories, I’m extremely hesitant about anything having to do with hot air balloons. Fortunately for me, this book was nothing like Poe’s nightmare stories and was actually quite entertaining. When it comes to the Newbery list, I’m especially thrilled when I come across a book that I enjoy. William Sherman is a retired school teacher. He loves his quiet time and he has a burning fascination with balloons. He concoc Every once in awhile a book surprises me. After the horror of Poe’s hot air balloon stories, I’m extremely hesitant about anything having to do with hot air balloons. Fortunately for me, this book was nothing like Poe’s nightmare stories and was actually quite entertaining. When it comes to the Newbery list, I’m especially thrilled when I come across a book that I enjoy. William Sherman is a retired school teacher. He loves his quiet time and he has a burning fascination with balloons. He concocts an impressive balloon that he hopes will take him on a long journey. Unfortunately once he gets going he runs into disaster and lands on an island called Krakatoa. Krakatoa is an island inhabited by a group of eccentric people who are infinitely rich because of a diamond mine. My favorite part of the story was the creativity of the island. There are twenty families on the island. Each one has a house that is in the style of a different country. They also make dinner based on dishes from those countries and serve dinner one night a month. I thought it was fun to learn about the different houses and the creative bits on the island. Highly enjoyable and fun!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katja Labonté

    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.”

  19. 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.

  20. 4 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. I read this for school years ago. I really enjoyed it, it's funny and just a really good book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tamar...playing hooky for a few hours today

    I felt like a Newberry, so I chose The Twenty-One Balloons. The book is cute and I enjoyed Professor Sherman's detailed description of his Balloon designed wicker house and his plan for a lengthy trip floating over the Pacific. Not everything went according to plan (but I did learn a bit about ballooning). The whole Walden Pond kind of theme on the island of Krakatoa was a bit over the top for me but I can see how this book might appeal to Middle Grades; there is a great deal to spark the imagin I felt like a Newberry, so I chose The Twenty-One Balloons. The book is cute and I enjoyed Professor Sherman's detailed description of his Balloon designed wicker house and his plan for a lengthy trip floating over the Pacific. Not everything went according to plan (but I did learn a bit about ballooning). The whole Walden Pond kind of theme on the island of Krakatoa was a bit over the top for me but I can see how this book might appeal to Middle Grades; there is a great deal to spark the imagination.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    In 1883, when retired math professor William Waterman Sherman leaves San Francisco in a customized hot air balloon, he is planning to fly across the Pacific Ocean. Three weeks later, he is found in the Atlantic Ocean amidst the wreckage of twenty balloons. After he is rescued and has some time to rest, Professor Sherman makes a public speech explaining what has happened to him. It turns out that he crashed on the island of Krakatoa, landing there just days before its volcano erupted. On Krakatoa In 1883, when retired math professor William Waterman Sherman leaves San Francisco in a customized hot air balloon, he is planning to fly across the Pacific Ocean. Three weeks later, he is found in the Atlantic Ocean amidst the wreckage of twenty balloons. After he is rescued and has some time to rest, Professor Sherman makes a public speech explaining what has happened to him. It turns out that he crashed on the island of Krakatoa, landing there just days before its volcano erupted. On Krakatoa, he met a group of people who secretly inhabited the island, living on the fortune found in its diamond mines and following a series of systems that gave everyone a place to live and food to eat. What a unique and fun book this is! I had no idea what to expect going into it, but the tone of the writing drew me in immediately. I quickly realized that the writing style lent itself well to being read aloud, and I wound up reading it to my big girls (ages 5 and 7) in a matter of days. They were as hooked as I was by the fanciful, adventurous storyline and the humorous, deadpan storytelling. Even my five-year-old, who is traditionally a big realistic fiction fan, was completely into the adventure, wanting to know what was going to happen next. The illustrations add a lot to the book. They help the reader envision some of the technology, including Professor Sherman's own balloon and the gadgets used by the Krakatoans. My girls clamored for me to show them every single picture, and they seemed to enjoy them as much as the text. My oldest, especially, is very into drawing diagrams of imagined inventions, and I think this aspect of the book really resonated with those interests for her. This book was such a pleasant surprise for me. It is very different from most other children's books and genuinely distinctive, not just in its writing but also in the format and structure of the story. Though my kids enjoyed it, I think they will probably want to revisit it again when they are a bit older, as I think the ideal audience for some of the humor is more toward the 10-14 age range. But it is a great choice for a family read-aloud with a wide range of ages, and I will most likely read it again to my entire crew when the little ones are big enough to appreciate it. This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

  23. 4 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?

  24. 5 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 4 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.

  27. 4 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!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    I must have read this book a zillion times when I was a kid. Seriously awesome.

  29. 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. 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.

  30. 4 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!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...