Friends are fun to play with. Friends keep you company. Friends comfort you. All this Emily knows.
She also knows a simple balloon can be your friend.
Emily receives a balloon and takes it home to play with. Soon she’s sharing everything with her balloon and takes it outside to play house with. One gust of wind, however, and it is stuck in a nearby tree. What will Emily do now? What will console her?
The innocence and lucidity of this story gives it charm that is utterly captivating. It celebrates a sense of wonder that we sometimes lose as we grow older, but which we’re only too happy to be reminded of. Emily’s natural openness, her ability to imagine and indeed truly see her balloon as a friend – to show such a easy leap of faith – will warm all but the coldest of hearts.
Sakai’s illustrations have a quiet magic about them, capturing Emily’s body language like poetry; in a way that seems so right, so simple and yet still startling in its accuracy. Minimal use of colour and lots of wide open white space create a sense of meditative timelessness. All in all a peaceful, lyrical picture book with the hallmarks of a classic.
Not all playing by the book needs to be complicated. Recently all we did to celebrate a book was eat some cheesecake. (Tough life!). This time, all that was needed was a yellow helium filled balloon to play with after school.
We batted it about, we took it outside, we played “chicken” letting it float away and then catching it before it flew out of grasp!
We tied a spoon to the string and found the “balance point” – using blutack we added and removed tiny weights until the balloon with the spoon floated mysteriously in mid-air, neither touching the ground, nor flying up to the ceiling.
This turned into a science lesson the next day when we saw how how the helium appeared to become less effective at lifting the balloon (this is actually due to helium leaking out of the balloon, through the relatively porous latex) and we had to reduce the weight of the spoon to re-find the balance point.
Whilst playing with our balloon we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading Emily’s Balloon include:
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Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher. Whilst this book has been translated from Japanese, there is no information available regarding the translator.
£5.99 • Paperback •