What is the theme of "The Twenty-One Balloons"?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Twenty-One Balloons stresses the themes of creativity, individuality, eccentricity, and cooperation. The fantasy of The Twenty-One Balloons is built around an actual historic event—the massive volcanic eruption that destroyed the Pacific island of Krakatoa in 1883. But there the connection with history ends. The Professor discovers that the inhabitants of the island have established a unique, Utopian society, which he seeks to understand. The story begins when Professor Sherman, who teaches high-school, becomes bored with his life and sets off on a journey in a hot air balloon called The Globe.

He hopes the wind will blow him and his balloon all around the world. To his surprise, he instead has a crash landing on the mysterious island of Krakatoa, an island full of diamond mines and enormous wealth.

The secret society of Krakatoa is based on values of greediness for wealth and inactivity. They believe their lives are perfect because they never have to worry about money. They live empty and unfulfilling lives and must learn the value of relationships, education and their own lives. They must learn how having extreme excess of money, or anything, is worthless.

Threatened with destruction, the Professor and the inhabitants must cooperate and discover a way to escape the island before the final explosion.

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is more than one theme present in this book. The majority of the book is about the Professor's time on the island of Krakatoa, its incredible population of people, and the society that they have built. They have more or less built a utopia on a volcanic island, and they have managed to keep it a secret. The people on the island are all incredibly intelligent and hardworking people, and this shows off a theme that emphasizes the importance of education. Additionally, the people are not selfishly using their ingenuity and hard work. The community is exceptional for their altruistic behavior. This book shows young readers a wonderful theme about community and the importance of helping out your neighbors. Creativity and individualism are also emphasized in this book. The island society strongly supports these kinds of attitudes and behavior. A bit of evidence that supports this is the balloon merry-go-round. The entire thing was conceived by the children, and the adults were very helpful in allowing the kids to pursue this particularly creative piece of entertainment.