In a pleasing tale by the recipient of the 2011 Cheerios New Author Contest, cheerful Molly releases a balloon and gains a friend.
Short rhymes describe the red balloon and how “Molly tied on a note / and set it afloat / with hopes it soon would be found.” Text and art capture the growing distance between Molly standing in her yard and the balloon floating higher in the sky: “Close to a cloud. / Sounds not so loud. / Barking dogs hushed. / Honking cars shushed.” The aerial perspectives are dizzying, and Bogade uses uncluttered pen-and-ink artwork to best advantage by leaving swathes of white for eyes to rest on, making bright splotches of color pop whether it is rooftops, fields or the balloon itself. The balloon’s journey over a body of water lasts a magical two spreads, from dusk and through the moonlit night, until it bobs toward shore at sunrise: “Town getting nearer. / Sounds getting clearer. / Blue bird sings. / Tower bell rings.” The excitement and anticipation comes from seeing where the balloon will land after it has traveled such a great distance and who will find it. In a surprising twist, the balloon introduces a new friend much closer than Molly—or readers—might ever have expected.
It’s an altogether charming book, but children may want to imitate Molly; adult caregivers of those that do should check environmental cautions and state law first. (Language to this effect will be added to the book in subsequent printings.) (Picture book. 3-6)