The Twenty-One Balloons is the story of Professor William Waterman Sherman, who in his retirement, decides to go hot-air ballooning around the world. His adventure is quite mysterious, as the book opens with him being found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the midst of the most interesting wreckage.
After a long journey, which ends in San Fransisco, he tells his story to the Western American Explorer’s Club. The bulk of the book is his story.
And it is an interesting one! It includes: landing on a deserted island, which isn’t so deserted, diamond mines, a vast multitude of inventions, a volcano and a quick escape.
The first time I read this book, I read it aloud to my children. It can get rather tedious, so the second time, we checked out the audio book from the library. We greatly enjoyed listening to it, and following along in the book – plus it saved my voice.
The plot line can be slow at times, but it’s worth reading to the end. And any boy who loves inventions, science and math will enjoy this book. We did – both times.
I will say, my youngest was a bit confused about what was, and was not, historically accurate in this book. Krakatoa is an island in Indonesia, and the volcano there did explode in 1883 destroying two-thirds of the island. However it really was a deserted island and there’s no evidence that there were diamond mines there.
Recommended for ages 6 and up (if they’re listening to it).