Please Bring Balloons
Lindsay Ward (author and illustrator)
Dial Books for Young Readers – part of the Penguin Young Readers Group (publishers)
‘All it takes is a little magic... and a lot of balloons!’
I came across ‘Please Bring Balloons’ quite by mistake, and I am so glad I did. This book is a real delight. It instils the reader with a sense of wonder from the very first line, ‘It appeared unexpectedly. Peeking out of the bear’s saddle, a hint of paper.’ The note, it appears, is a simple request: Please bring balloons. Emma, a young girl on a visit to the carousel, is very happy to fulfil the request of the carousel animal, a large snow-white polar bear. Thus begins a magical adventure where Emma and the polar bear fly through the night sky, assisted by a host of brightly coloured balloons.
Lindsay’s artwork, a mix of watercolour, pencil and paper cuts, is beautiful and adds a special element to the simple storyline. The double fold-out page in the centre of the book is especially wonderful. Illustrating the ‘polar bear rumpus,’ the finale of Emma’s magical journey, it is filled with intricate details and creates a real sense of celebration.
This is a wonderful book for young readers but could easily be used across the primary age range. The outline of the plot reminds me very much of Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ and children could easily make links with other stories they are familiar with, which share this frame work: something magically coming to life, an unlikely friendship, a journey to a strange place and a surprising celebration. Using this frame, children could write their own versions of the story. Where could the balloons take their polar bear? Please bring balloons also ends with the suggestion that there are more adventures to come for Emma and the polar bear, an invitation for children to continue the story using their own imaginations. Perhaps children could illustrate their stories by exploring paper-cut artwork too.