Author Chou and illustrator Bartolanzo offer this charming tale of a floating boy who follows his lost balloon.
Although Cooper, a boy born floating, usually wears special lead boots to keep him on the ground, when his very first balloon escapes him, he floats up to catch it. Without a way to come back to earth, Cooper floats away from his parents and into the sky. But though he doesn’t know where he is, the balloon seems to have a destination in mind. Soon Cooper is in the midst of hundreds of lost balloons. He discovers a fantastic building where Newton, the Keeper of the Rainbow, collects all of them. According to Newton, the rainbow is alive, and “all of these balloons, like the one you brought today, they are what keep it alive.” Newton explains that without the rainbow, there would be no color in the world, and even better, the rainbow can grant wishes by sending those lost balloons back to earth. After helping grant a few wishes with Newton, Cooper sees his parents are wishing him home. With Newton’s help, Cooper is able to return to them, and every so often, he sends a balloon into the sky on purpose to keep the rainbow alive. Bartolanzo’s depictions of Cooper are enchanting: in one conversation with Newton, Cooper is sitting cross-legged in the air, capturing the floating boy’s energy. The lost balloons and the arc of the rainbow are brilliantly portrayed in full color. Chou’s story itself is long on imagination but short on logic; even young readers will be able to poke holes in the idea that lost balloons are responsible for the world’s color. In addition, the tale carries an unfortunate message that encourages kids to send their balloons flying despite the potential environmental risks.
Although this whimsical tale may comfort toddlers missing their balloons, some eco-conscious parents may object to its premise.