The balloon blow up! by Andy Geppert

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A very funny story about size is presented within the tale of a balloon showing how a girl and her elephant see how big the balloon can be inflated. Elly asks the girl if she wants a balloon. Eagerly she accepts but then asks how big it can be. Elly then tries different sizes with his balloon. Is it to be as big as the goldfish bowl, or as big as the bike, or block tower of the moon? Worried that this will be too big, and make the balloon pop, they then make is smaller, the girl suggests it may be as small as her cat, or a piece of toast or a half moon.

But the ball begins to lose its air and raves around the room angrily.

Now it is the balloon's time to speak up.

He is not pleased, and produces a balloon owner’s contract which will make the owner think twice about owning a balloon. A list of words is given which describe ‘big’ which will amuse the readers, and following are several pages of things that will not be good for a balloon. Prickly things like cacti and garden implements, or cutty things like scissors and saws, bitey things like crocodiles and bear traps.

And the last promise is to care for the balloon when it is old and shrunk.

Readers will be laughing out loud at the idea of a balloon making demands, but all are designed to encourage children to treat their balloons with care.

Kids will love the size comparisons adding their own as the story is read, and learn about the best ways to treat a balloon. The girl’s decision making skills are demonstrated as she makes up her mind about what to do. How big should her balloon be is the question uppermost in her mind and to roam over all the possibilities will amuse and intrigue readers.

The yellow of the balloon is reflected throughout the story and the softness of each page underscores the care of a child for her possessions. Overlapping images using yellow, greys and touches of black and copious areas of white point to the strength of the design process. I loved looking for the balloon on each pager, the expressions on the elephant’s face, reading the girl’s feelings and loved being surprised by the change of the pages from bedroom to the moon, then the balloon’s contract. Each page was a delight,  informing the readers about the complex plight of the humble balloon. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Balloons, Caring, Discussion.

Fran Knight