Friday, October 05, 2018

The Remember Balloons

The Remember Balloons. Jessie Oliveros. Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: I have lots and lots of balloons, way more than my little brother. "This one's my favorite," I tell him, pointing to the balloon filled with my last birthday party. When I look at it, I can see the pony again. I can still taste the chocolate frosting.

Premise/plot: The balloons in the story symbolize a person's memories. James, our narrator, has many balloons though not as many as his parents and his grandpa. But that changes over the course of the book. His grandpa loses all of his balloons--his memories. This upsets James greatly. But then he notices that while his grandpa's balloons are gone, he has plenty of NEW balloons. Every single story his grandpa shared with him--every single balloon--is now his. His to remember. His to share. His to cherish.
But Grandpa has been having problems with his balloons lately. One will get caught in a tree, and he'll tell me the same story over and over. "Let me tell you about the Christmas I went to Aunt Nelle's farm," Grandpa says, even though he just finished telling me about it. Other times, a balloon will float right out of his hand, and he won't even know it.
My thoughts: I love, love, love, LOVE, crazy-love this one. It is incredibly good. It is sweet, bittersweet, and thought-provoking. It is on a sensitive topic; one that might be difficult for children to understand. (It may be "easy" for adults to grasp what Alzheimer's disease is mentally at least, but it's far from easy to process it in reality.)

This book celebrates FAMILY. I love that. The boy is obviously close with his whole family, but he is especially close with his grandfather. You don't always see that in picture books. It's obvious that these two have a lot of shared memories.

This book also celebrates STORIES. I really love that. Stories are gifts. Storytellers are gifted. Stories create bonds; stories celebrate what matters in life. The good. The bad. The ugly. The hilarious. The sweet. The more you hear a story, the more it becomes YOURS. Stories definitely shape/mold/transform our own memories, our own sense of self, of who we are, of where we belong.

I thought about my own balloons while reading this story. As soon as I read the book, I made my mom read it. Soon after she was, "I have a balloon I want to give you, but I'm not sure of its color." She then started telling me a story about how my sister told the nurse that her mama was going to be giving HER a baby.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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