Although this whimsical tale may comfort toddlers missing their balloons, some eco-conscious parents may object to its...

WHERE THE BALLOONS GO

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.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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