cover image Please Bring Balloons

Please Bring Balloons

Lindsay Ward. Dial, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3878-2

There’s an inherent magic to carousels, and Ward makes good use of it in a story that begins with a cryptic note and ends with a dance party. Ward draws her redheaded heroine Emma as an older elementary schooler: she’s independent enough to walk to school by herself, but still willing to “play along, just in case” when she spots a note peeking out of a carousel polar bear’s saddle; it reads “Please bring” next to a picture of a balloon. The next day, Emma ties one to the bear’s saddle. Another note follows (“Please bring more!”), which results in a magical midnight flight to the North Pole on the polar bear’s back. As in When Bird Met Egg, Ward uses a variety of patterned papers to lend texture and a whimsical sensibility to her painted cut-paper scenes, from the pale Arctic maps that form the North Pole landscape to the graph paper, handwriting worksheets, and musical notation that make each dancing polar bear an individual. It’s a gentle story of everyday magic, with artwork that should keep readers coming back. Ages 3–5. (Oct.)