Visit the children’s section of a local library or bookstore and you will find that most of the books address the very normal topics of life that we expect children to encounter. Of course this is perfectly acceptable and wonderful because most children enjoy moving through typical milestones in their families, education and friendships. Unfortunately not all little ones enjoy happy lives. In our experience as foster parents, we have children coming through our home who have absolutely no concept of functioning normally. They have lost everything precious to them. Their lives are clouded by loss and deep sadness.
When I first picked up My Yellow Balloon by Tiffany Papageorge, I expected it to tell a happy story; the stunning cover shows a smiling boy touching his nose to a bright yellow balloon. The story recounts how he came to own such a wonderful balloon and all the great adventures he had with this prized possession. He loved his balloon dearly, until one day, it slipped from his wrist and floated off into the sky. At this point in the story, the whole book drops into black and white images. The boy is deeply saddened and becomes almost depressed. He doesn’t want to do any of the other things he enjoys. After a while though, he starts to notice that he is slowly becoming less and less sad. He still misses his balloon but he begins to enjoy life again. As this transformation happens, the pages begin to slowly transition from black and white back to color.
The combination of the simple story and the dramatic color effects created a very strong sense of loss when this child lost his precious balloon. Loss is a part of life but so very often we choose not to address it or anticipate it, especially with children. I love that this book is truly about loss and can be adapted to whatever that looks like at the time…significant or minimal. Using both words and images that connect with children, it expresses what loss feels like and the hope they can have that things will get better. I highly highly recommend this book for homes, schools, counselors and anyone dealing with children experiencing loss. It is simply beautiful and its message is timeless.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Minoan Moon Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.