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The Twenty-One Balloons (Puffin Modern Classics)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  16,731 Ratings  ·  915 Reviews
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 e ...more
Kindle Edition, 202 pages
Published (first published 1947)
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K.D. Absolutely
May 05, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Kwesi 章英狮
Shelves: childrens
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
Sep 04, 2011 Apokripos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kidz at ♥
Recommended to Apokripos by: Kwesi and K.D.
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.

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 ...more
Dec 11, 2007 Erica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable and imaginative children's books I have ever read. Du Bois relies heavily on such themes as adventure, balloons, diamonds and volcanos -- as a result this book rules. SERIOUSLY EVERYBODY WINS!!! OH and look at that description-- can you think of anything more appealing to the directionless questers of the post-college set? I THINK NOT!
Jul 12, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 21, 2010 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 22, 2010 Lili rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Ashley Ziemer
May 23, 2010 Ashley Ziemer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 14, 2009 Kasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boy-books
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
Abigail Larsen
Nov 17, 2013 Abigail Larsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
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
Apr 16, 2014 Jered rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
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 a pirate's ...more like a freight load of something utterly bananas ...more
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.
This was kind of a funny book. It kept my interest, and was definitely about ballooning, but I also felt that it was a lot more about Krakatoa than hot air balloons.

I feel like a lot of these Newbery books are reminding me of other Newbery books. This one, for example, is a combination of Dr. Dolittle 1923) and Call it Courage (1941). That's not a bad thing; just something I've been noticing. That happens all the time -- 2 meteor movies come out at the same time, everyone is into vampire books,
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
What a peculiar story! William Sherman, tired of teaching ungrateful children, decides to travel around the world in a hot air balloon. Sherman succeeds, but not in the way he'd anticipated. Unexpectedly, Sherman crashes on the island of Krakatoa. Instead of finding a deserted island, however, he comes upon a strange community of people.

The community has a source of wealth, a magnificent diamond mine, that allows the people to do anything they wish. The people have created a zany civilization fo
Feb 15, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

As I’ve been reading books for this class, I’ve had a little notebook next to me to take notes on things I’d like to talk about in my post about the book: the very first thing I wrote down for the Twenty-One Balloons was “I’m SO excited about rereading this; it’s been maybe 15 years.”

I loved then and still love the way the book opens – we’ve met our main character, albeit briefly, and are on the edge of our seats, waiting along with the rest of the world, to hear his tale. I really think this s
Apr 24, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, newbery
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 ...more
Mar 06, 2011 TPK rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This past week I've been visiting my mother as she recuperates from surgery, and as a way to pass the time I've been reading her The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois. She'd never read it before, and it's not a bad book to read aloud.

In 1883, Professor William Waterman Sherman of San Francisco, a teacher of arithmetic for many years, decides upon his retirement that he will set forth in a huge specially-made balloon to take a trip around the world. Fate decrees a slightly different cou
Nov 11, 2010 Tobinsfavorite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a long time ago in a rocking chair by the window in an upstairs bedroom at my grandmother's house; I couldn't have been older than 7 or 8 the last time I stayed there. I recently found the audiobook in the library and snapped it up.

The book is not the 5-star wonder I remember, but it is a fine read for the young (or people who can read young people's books without scorn), and I was pleased to revisit it. The first thing I noticed was the reader, who also read _Wicked_. He's darned go
Title: The Twenty-One Balloons
Author: William Pene duBois
Genre: Young Adult

Challenges: 101 Books in 1001 Days Challenge, The Naming Convention Challenge, Book Around the States Challenge, Read and Review Challenge 2010, 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge, 100 + Reading Challenge, Young Adult Reading Challenge, YA Through the Decades, Audio Book Challenge 2010, Pages Read 2010, A to Z challenge, 1001 Childrens book Before I Grow Up

Rating: 4/5
No. of Pages: Audio (192)
Published: 194
Bailey Mckeon
William Pene du Bois combines an adventurous man with the gifted people of an island to take you on a creative journey through peculiar situations and wonderful inventions. Whether enjoying the view in the Giant Balloon Life Raft, listening with the rest of the world as Professor Sherman tells his tale, or simply flipping the pages of a book reading through the story, everyone is taken on an adventure through loyalty, wonderful characters, and frankly fantastic styles in The Twenty-One Balloons ...more
This story begins with Professor William Waterman Sherman being found in the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by 20 hot air balloons. Since it was well publicized that the Professor left San Francisco a month prior in one hot air balloon with the intention of flying around the world for a year, everyone wonders what he is doing in the wrong ocean with so many balloons. But Professor Sherman refuses to tell any piece of his story until he reaches San Francisco. The set-up for getting him to the west coa ...more
Austen to Zafón
This is another book I was pre-reading for my son and the humor took me by surprise. The story is of a San Francisco man in the late 1800's who decides to retire from teaching math to adolescent boys and take a vacation. He wants a vacation that has no destination and he doesn't want to be bothered by anyone, so he has an elaborate balloon built and stocks it so that he can float across the Pacific. A few weeks later, he is picked up in the Atlantic Ocean amid the the wreckage of 21 balloons. Ev ...more
Esther May
The Twenty-One Balloons is a winner of the Newbery Medal and an interesting story about Professor William Waterman Sherman and his idea to live for 1 year in a hot air balloon. You see "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." Sherman uses the second type of travel. His travel takes him around ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
Guy builds the hot air balloon to end all hot air balloons and intends to float all the way around the world on it, but instead he crash lands on a secret island filled with diamonds where 20 families live in the lap of luxury, secluded from the rest of the world and perfectly content.

Fun read. Interesting idea. You could do a lot of art projects with kids who were reading this book, but that's really about it. There aren't any deep themes or questions to explore and it seems like a story that w
Oct 04, 2015 Kathi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
When my husband saw me reading this Newbery winner, he announced, “I remember reading that book and loving it.”

I understand what made my interested-in-inventions-and-in-how-all-gadgets-work husband appreciate The Twenty-One Balloons in the 1950’s. William Pene Du Bois's book is a realistic-fantasy adventure story, based on the actual eruptions of the volcanoes on the island of Krakatoa in 1883. The plot is quirky (a newly retired middle-school teacher, searching for serenity, attempts to fly acr
I have to say I loved reading this book more than I loved the actual story. My daughter brought it home after her first visit to her school's library and was so excited at the prospect of the story. She thought it sounded great. I thought it would be a bit technical and she might lose interest. It was technical, but it held our interest. Also, the book was due back in two weeks and she has plenty of other homework, etc. to keep her days busy, so I knew we'd have to plow away at it every day. We ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-medal
This was actually a Newbery Award winner that I felt was deserving of the award. Although it wasn't a life changing, absolutely incredible book (which in my opinion a book should be if it is going to win the biggest award given to children's literature, however this is obviously false for this award as 99% of the books blow) this book is good enough that I would recommend it to someone to read, which I can't say is a common theme with the Newbery Award winners. This book was written about a life ...more

Professor Sherman of San Francisco has retired from teaching math in order to indulge his passion for Ballooning. He plans to fly across the Pacific, but is rescued (most curiously) in the Atlantic! He resists all efforts and bribes as well as a Presidential request to explain his story, for he has promised to keep mum until he addresses the San Francisco Explorers' Club.

Most of this delightfully amusing book is his account of his misadventures in a balloon. There is
Aug 30, 2010 Dayna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why do so many people love this book? I hated it! I don't often hate a book, and if I absolutely "can't get into it" I put it down (sometimes with the intention of coming back to it later), but considering it's a children's book and not a very long one I couldn't take it back to the library without finishing it. I forced myself to read every word, even though I was incredibly bored the entire time! This book in one word: BORING! There's way too much explaining ("Let me explain," or "so-and-so ex ...more
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“Half of this story is true and the other half might very well have happened.” 11 likes
“The best way of travel, however, if you aren't in any hurry at all, if you don't care where you are going, if you don't like to use your legs, if you don't want to be annoyed at all by any choice of directions, is in a balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely to nature.” 4 likes
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