Book #13 The Twenty-One Balloons

We LOVED this book by William Pene du Bois. I haven’t read it since I was in middle school, so I decided to do it as a read-aloud book for Mary Anneliese. It is on about a sixth or seventh grade reading level, so I knew that it would be challenging and I would have to explain a lot. There were some words that were new to her vocabulary, but the book is so engaging and fascinating that she didn’t seem to mind. And the writing is such that she could understand the meanings of most words by the context.

This is the anxiety-filled journey of Professor William Waterman Sherman, set in San Francisco in the year 1883. Professor Sherman is a mathematics teacher who has had enough with children and classrooms, so he decides to retire from teaching and fly solo in a hot air balloon, staying in the air for a year. He meticulously plans every detail of his voyage, making provisions for food, sleeping, and most importantly designing a balloon and basket in which he can survive for such a great length of time. The detailed plans presented in this book are extremely interesting and thought-provoking.

After being in the air for a short time, Professor Sherman runs into trouble, which was not in his meticulous plans. He crash lands on the delightful island of Krakatoa, and there finds a way of life that is idyllic and yet as precisely well thought out as his balloon voyage. But life on Krakatoa might not be all it’s cracked up to be, as there is the perpetual danger of living on an active volcano.

Mary Anneliese didn’t want this book to end, and that’s the sign of a classic book.

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