What is the author's message in The Twenty-One Balloons?

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I think this question is asking about something other than possible themes. It is possible that the author had several messages in mind. One possible message is that the author was trying to show people what a society could be like if everybody worked together and behaved much more altruistically than currently done. It's also possible that the author was trying to send a message about the value of art and science working together, suggesting that they should do so more frequently.

Personally, I feel that the message is squarely aimed at taking mankind's power down a peg or two. The people on the island are amazing. They are friendly and intelligent, and they invent all kinds of amazing technology; however, none of that could prevent the destruction of everything that they built. Escape was possible, but their homes and lives on the island have been destroyed. The message could be something along the lines of "nature always wins," and it shows readers that nature will always be more powerful than humanity.

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Pene du Bois published this book in 1947, so long ago that we might have a difficult time understanding the context in which he wrote. One idea that comes to mind is that he was poking fun at Utopian societies in the book, and perhaps making the point that no matter how perfectly we set up societies, nature has a way of making things imperfect. You might also notice that the book was published almost immediately after World War II, so it is equally possible that he longed for a peaceful island on which people could create an ideal and happy society. In either case, a similar eruption really did happen on the island of Krakatoa, and whether the volcano stands as a symbol of the damage to civilization in World War II, or a symbol of nature's way of gumming up the plans of people, is something we may never know.  It is equally possible, given that the author wrote many children's books, that he simply wanted to write a great adventure story, which he most certainly did!

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