As part of the Kronengold Lecture Series, illustrator and author Melissa Sweet visited St. Bernard’s yesterday via Zoom.
Ms. Sweet has illustrated over 100 (yes, 100!) books and received numerous awards including two Caldecott honors. She is also the author of four books including Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, which was the focus of her talk to the Junior School.
Ms. Sweet showed the boys pictures of her studio in Maine, filled with art supplies and vintage odds and ends which she uses to make collages and all sorts of interesting things. All of her work is done by hand. She described her daily routine and the importance of sticking to a schedule and having deadlines. The boys were fascinated to hear about the research that goes into writing a book, especially one like Balloons over Broadway which tells the true story of a puppeteer named Tony Sarg. Ms. Sweet spent over a year learning about Mr. Sarg and all of his wonderful creations. As she creatively illustrates in her book, Mr. Sarg created large puppets for the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, but as the crowds grew and grew, he came up with the genius idea of flying them overhead using helium. Ms. Sweet’s joyful illustrations make the story lift off the page.
The boys loved Ms. Sweet’s presentation and asked all sorts of questions about the process of creating a book. To complement this talk, the St. Bernard’s art department is working with the boys to create miniature parade balloons of their own, inspired by Tony Sarg.
We look forward to reading more of Melissa Sweet’s books. A large number are on display in the library and in our online library, SORA. Many thanks to the Kronengold Authors Fund for making this experience possible. The fund was established by a group of Old Boys in honor of their second grade teacher Susan Kronengold.