I Have a Balloon

Ariel Bernstein, illus. by Scott Magoon. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7250-0
An owl and a monkey confront jealousy, the fickleness of want, and the influence of other perspectives in this high-energy story from debut author Bernstein and illustrator Magoon (I Will Not Eat You). Swinging into the opening scene on a vine, Monkey is enraptured by the red balloon Owl is holding. Initially, Owl seems ambivalent about the balloon, but Monkey’s praise (“The only thing I’ve ever wanted, since right now, is a shiny, big red balloon”) leaves Owl unwilling to part with it, despite Monkey’s offers of a teddy bear, sunflower, and other items in exchange. But Monkey’s single “sock with a star and a perfectly shaped hole” piques Owl’s interest with its possibilities. Written entirely in dialogue, Bernstein’s story never diverts focus from the characters’ id-driven wants. Magoon’s digital illustrations slyly reflect the changing power structure—Monkey spends much of the book on the forest floor, looking up at Owl, but they swap positions when Monkey’s sock becomes the object of desire—while bringing big laughs through pratfalls and other physical comedy. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Mary Cummings, Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2017
Release date: 09/26/2017
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