The Twenty-One Balloons
The Twenty-One Balloons, written by William Pene du Bois, won the Newberry Medal in 1947. The story begins when Professor Sherman, who teaches high-school, becomes bored with his life and sets off on a journey in a hot air balloon called The Globe. He hopes the wind will blow him and his balloon all around the world. To his surprise, he instead has a crash landing on the mysterious island of Krakatoa, an island full of diamond mines and enormous wealth.
On the island dwells a society of twenty families who were brought together by a shipwrecked sailor. Each family owns a restaurant of different types of foreign foods and all members of the island eat together at a different house each night. Krakatoa is a volcanic island, and the families are aware of the danger that the volcano could erupt at any moment. Their escape plan consists of a platform made of balloons. Mr. F, one of the island dwellers, finds Professor Sherman on the island and takes him in.
The secret society of Krakatoa is based on values of greediness for wealth and inactivity. They believe their lives are perfect because they never have to worry about money. They live empty and unfulfilling lives and must learn the value of relationships, education and their own lives. They must learn how having extreme excess of money, or anything, is worthless. The book is full of drawings that help make complicated inventions and ideas clearer.
I would rate this book a 4. The plot illustrates important lessons by showing a society that does not function like the society we are used to living in today, but with critical parallels to the problems related to greed and excess,
Author: Katie Ransohoff, high school student writer
Reviewed by the Web Content
Committee of PAMF