cover image My Yellow Balloon

My Yellow Balloon

Tiffany Papageorge, illus. by Erwin Madrid. Minoan Moon (, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-9903370-0-3

Papageorge sets her nostalgic debut in an unspecified period in the early 20th century, imagining a time when rocking horses, tire swings, and dominoes were all the entertainment a boy might need. The boy in this case is named Joey, and his eyes gleam as he explores a carnival with his parents, receiving a yellow balloon from a “ripe old man” selling them. Joey and his balloon are inseparable, but the relationship is short-lived: playing in the sandbox, “somehow, some way, it slipped off his wrist.” In the story’s most effective moment, readers turn the book sideways, and a gatefold spread opens to emphasize the gulf of sky between Joey and the balloon. Papageorge and Madrid give substantial weight and attention to Joey’s emotional life, but the story’s impact is weakened by purple prose (“The cool air wrapped around him while the dark clouds of spring hung like huge sacks of treasured rain”) and artwork that, while polished, manipulatively pulls on heartstrings (Joey’s world literally turns gray after the balloon disappears). Rather than sharing Joey’s sorrow, readers may just feel sorry for him. Ages 4–8. (BookLife)