Inspired by the fantastic reviews at The Bookie Woogie (seriously, go there), my siblings and I decided to transcript a discussion of a book we recently read together.
Noel We are reviewing The 21 Balloons, by William Pène du Bois. Did you guys like this book?
Noel What did you like about it?
Caleb (11) I liked the gold mines—
Noel The gold mines?
Caleb The diamond mines, and I liked the balloon merry-go-round
Adeline (8) I liked how the volcano went off, and they had a platform with 20 balloons on it, and with his balloon, it made 21, and that’s why they call it 21 Balloons.
Henry (5) I like the part when Mr. F was showing Professor Sherman the bedrooms and some tricks—
Noel What was special about the houses on Krakatoa?
Henry Their homes?
Adeline I know!
Henry There was a special day at each restaurant—
Noel The houses were restaurants?
Caleb I remember that they had diamond foundations for their houses.
Noel Why did they need those?
Henry I, well, each day they had a special restaurant to go to.
Noel And what was different about the restaurants?
Caleb They are from all different countries.
Henry They’re all different letters of the alphabet.
Adeline All the way to “T.”
Noel So, each of the families had a different last name that was a different letter of the alphabet—
Caleb Like Mr. F, his wife, and F1 and F2.
Noel What kind of food did they serve?
Henry Yeah, because their names were F.
Noel So, Professor Sherman goes on a journey in his balloon, and where does his balloon come down?
Caleb Krakatoa. It’s a small island out in the Pacific Ocean.
Noel Who lived there?
Adeline Twenty families.
Caleb Each family had four members in it, that means there were eighty one people after Professor Sherman landed. And, in the second year that they were there, they had this really bad earthquake, and some of their houses fell down, and they had to sleep in the mines.
Noel So the whole world knew about these people living on the island?
Henry Because it was—
Caleb A secret.
Henry A secret.
Caleb Because of the mines.
Noel What were in the mines?
Caleb Diamonds! Millions and trillions, some were the size of baseballs—
Adeline He had a verrry long talk.
Noel Professor Sherman gave a very long talk?
Caleb He gave a talk at the San Francisco Explorers Society, and that was the only place where he would reveal the secrets of his unknown past.
Noel Anything else you’d like to say?
Caleb Um, I still can’t figure out how he went to the bathroom on his balloon.
Henry I know how.
Adleline I liked his bed on the balloon, how it was filled up with gas and every time he didn’t need it, it would float up to the ceiling and it wouldn’t be in his way.
Henry I remember that Professor Sherman, he took a break from his talk.
Caleb An intermission.
Noel Because he told the entire story, didn’t he, the book is made up of the story he told to the Explorer Society.
Adeline I like the pictures in the book.
Noel They show the inventions of the people on Krakatoa.
Caleb I liked F1 and F2’s beds, how they would go out of the ceiling through sky lights right onto the roof. And they would never use blankets because they were just a few miles from the equator.
Henry A few? Well, maybe an hour from it.
Adeline Mr. F had a boy and a girl.
Caleb Every family had a boy and a girl. They had to, to ensure the further inhabitance of Krakatoa.
Noel All right, thank you.
Caleb And now we’re off.
Henry Let’s listen to it.