We were lucky enough to be sent a copy of this book recently, after being contacted by its very friendly and talented illustrator, Maria. It felt like a risk, if I’m honest, as we rarely get sent something without at least a teeny bit of prior knowledge of the author, illustrator and publisher – or at least one of the three! However, I did some looking around online – I’m never happier than when I have a bookish project to undertake – and discovered Maria’s beautiful website. After that, my wariness melted away as her work gave me that indefinable glow I always get when I see illustrations I love.
I wish I could be more specific and tell you in well-informed ‘drawing and writing’ talk exactly why I think this book is so lovely. Unfortunately I can’t, but here is my amateur, yet very heartfelt, account of why I think it’s awesome.
1) I like the balance between the colour and the whiteness on each page – some spreads could at first glance look as if they were unfinished, but on closer inspection you realise how cleverly this draws you in to key parts of the picture and allows your imagination to elaborate on the rest.
2) I like the colour palette that is used and the outfits that the two little girls wear, which remind me of things I used to have when I was younger.
3) I reaaaally like the story, which describes the journey of a balloon as it is set free by Molly O’Doon with a note tied to its string.
The balloon floats higher and higher and the rhyming text takes great joy in using absolutely the ‘right’ few words to describe the balloon’s adventures, following it through day and night before its eventual landing somewhere we might have seen before *taps nose knowingly*.
4) The imagery that is used is simple but effective and makes the boys smile every time we read it, “Each shrinking house / small like a mouse / Fields into rugs / Cows into bugs.” They found it especially hilarious that a cow might turn into a bug and my subsequent efforts to explain metaphor were largely ignored while they chortled away.
5) The overall premise is just so enchanting – that a balloon with a note tied to it could end up in someone else’s hands (as opposed to just popping or floating off into the atmosphere) is exiting enough, but for it to land back with your next door neighbour is just magical (in a very good way).
It is a wonderful book to read aloud, though it did take me a couple of attempts to feel completely comfortable with the change in the structure of the rhyming verses over the course of the story. This is not a criticism as it makes perfect sense to vary the pace at certain times, but I was glad I’d read the book to myself first before I read it out loud to the boys, as it meant I was anticipating the changes and could negotiate them without interrupting the flow of the book.
6) Everything about this book is a testament to believing in the wonder of a bigger, wider world that, every now and then, has the knack of delivering something that makes us say, “Wow!”
I can only hope that there is more to come from both Maria Bogade and Celeste Jenkins. Perhaps I’ll send them a small note to request further books… *rummages around in party cupboard, blows up a bright orange wiggly balloon and starts penning a letter* 🙂
Win a SIGNED copy of this lovely book!
Maria has been incredibly generous and sent a signed copy of ‘The Lost (And Found) Balloon’ for me to give away to one lucky winner. To be in with a chance, simply leave a comment after this blog post, or share this competition on Twitter or Facebook. You could even do all of those things and give yourself three opportunities to win!
I’m really sorry, but due to the cost of postage this competition is open to UK residents only. I’ll draw the winner at 9:30am on Wednesday 16th October, 2013. Wishing everyone the very best of luck 🙂
This competition ended at 9:30am on Wednesday 16th October, 2013. The winner was @MrsBrownsBooks. Many thanks to all who entered.
Disclaimer: I received my copies of ‘The Lost (And Found) Balloon’ (one for review and one for the competition) from the illustrator. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.