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The Balloon Sailors


Based on true events from the time of the Berlin Wall.

When King Frack and King Frick divide their kingdom with a tall wall, Tamala and her brother send balloon messages over the wall to their beloved grandmother.

Then Tamala decides her family can reach their grandmother the same way: in a hot-air balloon! The family gathers all the materials they will need: cloth for the balloon, straw for the basket. But where to find a gas burner? With spies everywhere, their work is extremely perilous.

Nevertheless, Mother sews the material, Father weaves the basket, and Tamala and Abalon discover an old gas burner in a junkyard. After many nights of labor, their craft is ready and rises into the air. Guards on the wall spot them and fire their weapons, but the balloon sails safely over.

Happily, they successfully reach their destination, just as two families from East Berlin did in 1979! An endnote ties this story to the dramatic true event.

Key features:

  • Based on a true escape over the Berlin Wall in 1979
  • A captivating, page-turning suspense story
  • Stunning, evocative illustrations
Product Details

About the Author

Diane Swanson has written over 55 books for young people, including "Tunnels!," and "Nibbling on Einstein's Brain." Her many accolades include the "Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction" and the "Mr. Christie's Book Award." She is a popular visitor to schools and libraries, and frequently speaks at educational conferences. Krystyna Lipka-Sztarballo is an amazing artistic talent from Poland. Her work has appeared in picture books throughout Europe, earning her a place on the "2002 IBBY Honor List."


A testament to the creativity and determination of the human spirit.--Gail Hamilton"Canadian Materials" (09/19/2003) This thrilling tale will have children holding their breaths in suspense... art captures the tense, dark mood as well as hope and freedom represented by the balloons. Excellent.--Krys Stefansky"Virginian-Pilot" (01/13/2004) The artwork successfully evokes fear, hope, and joy... simple, well-told tale.--Linda M. Kenton"School Library Journal" (03/01/2004) Based on a true story of a daring escape over the Berlin Wall in a hot air balloon in 1979, this book is not only a testament to the creativity and determination of the human spirit, but it also is likely to spark some discussion.--Gail Hamilton"Canadian Materials" (09/19/2003)

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