Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Emily's Balloon by Komako Sakai (Chronicle Children's Books)

Sometimes a book is such an acute (and very cute) observation of toddler life that you just can't help smiling as you read. Here's "Emily's Balloon" by Komako Sakai...
Most parents can remember the first time they handed their little one a balloon. It could've been a big bright shiny foil one at a fair, or just a big colourful floaty one at a friend's birthday party. Kids and balloons go together like bread and butter so we were completely drawn in by Komako Sakai's latest toddler tale.

Emily is an energetic and imaginative little girl who is given a balloon one day. Her first one floats off into the sky (how many times has this happened to you with your little ones? Probably quite a few, right?) and so mummy carefully ties the second one to Emily's finger.

Emily spends a blissful afternoon with her new 'friend' and takes it everywhere with her, but when she arrives home, her mum unties the balloon from her finger and Emily's balloon floats up to the ceiling just out of reach!

Mum to the rescue once again! Mum ties a spoon to the balloon so it will still float, but won't float off. Emily has a lot of fun with her new friend but alas a gust of wind catches it and Emily's balloon floats off into a nearby tree.

Poor Emily imagines all the fun she would have had with her balloon as she prepares for bedtime. No brushing teeth for Mr Balloon, no snuggling up under the covers - the poor balloon remains in the tree, battered by the wind, looking a lot like the moon in the deep dark night and Emily just can't sleep.

Oddly, the story seems to abruptly end. Perhaps the message is that nothing lasts forever, and those tiny moments of joy as a child are there to be enjoyed in the moment. As with Komako's other fabulous night-time story "Hannah's Night" (which we highly recommend by the way), her characterisations are spot on and at times Emily reminded me of a teeny tiny Charlotte in expression and mannerisms.

It seems a shame about the end but it does mean that children can then use their wonderful imaginations to fill in the rest of the story themselves. Does Emily finally rescue her balloon? Does it go flat overnight? What happens next is up to you!

Charlotte's favourite bit: Emily playing in the sandpit with her new balloon chum.

Daddy's favourite bit: Komako's observational art is absolutely perfect, capturing the essence of toddler-dom wonderfully. It does seem a bit of an abrupt end to the tale but children will always be able to fill in the rest themselves.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Chronicle Children's Books)

"Emily's Balloon"

Written and Illustrated by Komako Sakai

Published by Chronicle Children's Books

Release Date: 4th August 2015

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