Professor William Waterman Sherman has just been fished out of the Atlantic Ocean by the crew of the S.S. Cunningham. They found the Professor floating among the detritus of some twenty deflated balloons. Obviously the Captain and crew of the ship were anxious to know the Professor's story, but he simply refuses to tell insisting that "This tale of mine shall first be heard in the auditorium of the Western American Explorers' Club in San Fransisco, of which I am an honorary member!" (p.11)
The Professor is then whisked cross country in none other than the President's very own train. Everyone, it seems, is awaiting the details of the Professor's round-the-world balloon trip.
Once the Professor is ensconced in a comfy bed on the stage in the auditorium of the Explorers' Club, he begins to tell his tale. And quite a tale it is! A tale including crash landings, shark infested waters, secret island habitations, diamond mines, international food, and escape plans!
This is a Newbery blast from the past of the very best sort. The pacing is perfect, the story is action packed, the people of Krakatoa and their "gourmet government" are hilarious, and the Professor is a great storyteller. William Pene du Bois definitely understood what kids want in a story. Readers will easily be able to see this turned into a film of the Willy Wonka variety if only in their minds.