cover image Balloons for Papa: A Story of Hope and Empathy

Balloons for Papa: A Story of Hope and Empathy

Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia, illus. by Erika Meza. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-308113-0

Originally published in Great Britain, this thoughtful narrative follows Arthur, a bespectacled child with yellow rain boots whose mother is in the hospital and whose father’s smile is subsequently lost. Each day, Arthur requests a colorful balloon from the elderly balloon vendor, since balloons make Arthur smile; each day, Papa tells him no, until a serendipitous bundle of balloons tied to their house’s tree brings the duo to a cathartic conversation. Bedia adeptly highlights Arthur’s love and understanding for his parents (“ ‘Balloons always make me smile. I hope they bring your smile back,’ said Arthur”). Meza’s fine-lined illustrations cast scenes in grayscale except for Arthur’s boots, the vibrant balloons, and a few closing spreads, augmenting the emotional heft of Bedia’s conclusion. A moving picture book reminder of the significance of small actions and a celebration of children’s capacity for empathy. Back matter includes an author’s note. Ages 4–8. [em](Apr.) [/em]