The Remember Balloons

Jessie Oliveros, illus. by Dana Wulfekotte. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8915-7
Debut author Oliveros imagines that memories are small, brightly colored balloons tied to a person’s wrist (and, in a dog’s case, to its collar). The young narrator of this story has more balloons than his baby brother; his elderly grandfather has more than everyone in the family combined. But lately, Grandpa’s balloons have been slipping from his wrist—a few at first, and then more, “faster and faster” until finally, Grandpa no longer recognizes the boy. The boy is confused, scared, and angry: “Why did you let it go?” he cries when a silver balloon that represents an idyllic day spent fishing together floats away. “That was our balloon!” But his parents tell the boy that memories can be shared; his time with his grandfather, and the stories Grandpa told him about his own life, have become new balloons on the boy’s wrist. The metaphor might have worn out its welcome quickly, but the book’s visual strategy works: Wulfekotte (Rabbit & Possum) makes the balloons the only color elements and depicts the story’s action in softly textured black-and-white line drawings. This distinctive look, combined with the simple, plaintive prose, offers genuine poignancy. Ages 5–9. Author’s agent: Michael Hoogland, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. Illustrator’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/28/2018
Release date: 08/28/2018
Genre: Children's
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