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This book clearly deserves more than five stars!
Most good children's books have a primary story line that entertains the children, and brings home an important lesson. The outstanding children's books manage to combine more than one lesson. The great children's books appeal to adults as much as to children. The classic children's books take children and adults to places, thoughts, and lessons that they would never otherwise have considered. Where Do Balloons Go? has all of the elements of a classic children's book, with some novel improvements in combining text and illustrations to expand your imagination.
Where Do Balloons Go? begins with this query:
"Where do balloons go when you let them go free?
It can happen by accident. It's happened to me."
Now, if you are like me, you assume that the helium-filled balloons are carried high into the air until they either develop a hole and burst or explode from the expansion of the helium into the near-vacuum around the balloon. Not very exciting as alternative thoughts, are they? That dead-end in your mind, though, sets you up for the wonderful, mind-expanding speculations in this interesting book.
Do they every make friends?
Do they ever fall in love and have families?
To fully appreciate this set of questions, you have to imagine the illustrations that complement the queries. Balloons are dining in a restaurant, having a romantic time. Using that illustrative vision to launch into the idea of balloon heirs (pun obviously intended for airs) is hilarious. I just loved it.
The illustrations are done in vibrant colors, emphasizing lots of purples, that create a play with the text and vice versa as the above example shows to greatly expand the meaning of the book.
For a further example, the text says that balloons worry about popping and getting caught.
The corresponding illustration emphasizes professional human balloon detanglers with advertisements and all kinds of specialized gear untangling balloons from trees. The illustrations have a Richard Scarry-type appearance combined with a New Yorker-style sophistication that effortlessly engage these illustrations to nicely bridge the gap between children and adults, without excluding either side of the audience. In this sequence, you have an additional reversal in that people are serving the balloons, rather than our usual conception of the object serving the person. Without this illustration for the text, that final visual play on the verbal concept would not have been possible.
A standard technique for children's books is just to anthromorphize the objects. This book goes well beyond that. First, different types of anthromophization are employed (as objects with senses as well as self-animate objects that might dance). The balloons are also made into creatures with animal-like qualities and spiritual beings.
You will have to read the book to appreciate its full power. Along the way, you will be exposed to concepts that explore balloon communication methods, how balloons relax, benefits achieved by floating away, activities they pursue unseen in the sky, and the mental perceptions of the balloons as all this occurs. In one nice surprise, there's an enormous fold-out illustration. At the end, you also have stickers that your child can put on the book or anywhere else that she or he wants to.
The ending is brilliantly done, in closing the seemingly open-ended circle of the questions and the action. You will appreciate the way the ending connects parent and child in a particularly nice way.
After you have enjoyed the mind-expanding, humorous, and versatile perspectives in this book, I suggest that you take another question to which there is a scientific answer available, and build your own set of speculations and interactions. In the process, you and your child can create the story together . . . along with your own illustrations. If you cannot think of any other question, I suggest as a starting point: Why does popcorn pop? The punny potential of that question could even take you beyond the heights reached in Where Do Balloons Go?
Reach mentally for the stars and grab the physical and emotional closeness that rewards both you and your child!
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on 10 March 2001
Jamie Lee Curtis's poignant words tell a tale of love and loss. It magically weaves it's way to a delightful if reflective conclusion that creates wonderment for children and evokes cherished memories for grown ups. The illustrations bring to life this clever, clever story, an absolute delight.
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on 22 November 2010
Highly praised for its uplifting rhymed poems and exuberant illustrations that send the kids' imagination and scientific thinking soaring high, WHERE DO BALLOONS GO is a winner to give to any curious readers who want to find out the answers to the persistent question they all have the moment a balloon escapes from their hands. Colorful, whimsical and totally enjoyable, this book is full of surprises including two pages that open to four to display balloon dance and their world travels as well as a sticker sheet with balloons of all sizes, colors and accessories for kids to play in front and back of the book. A fascinating book that begins with a simple question ends with a high-flying explorations of artwork, verses and space speculations:

"Do some go so far
That they end up in space?
Do they challenge the rockets
To float them a race?"
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on 31 July 2010
Lots of detail in these cartoon type illustrations, and text to make children ask questions. An enjoyable book to share with a pre-school child.
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on 4 March 2016
Absolutely lovely. The children in my class thoroughly enjoyed this. The illustrations are great - lots of things for the children to look at.
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