Sitting still on the ground, alone, Ball wishes he could soar like Balloon. Suddenly he’s thrown, bounced, rolled, passed, and kicked in a fantastic playground pickup game, and he sees what’s fantastic about being himself.
Children encounter other crucial lifelong lessons in this engaging picture book about two simple objects that give young people unending pleasure. Apostrophic lines give Ball and Balloon expressions children can easily interpret: embarrassment, smugness, surprise, pride, exhilaration, discouragement, love, satisfaction, and reciprocity. When Ball tries to roll and bounce on his own but can’t, Balloon taunts from above, calling, “The sky’s the limit.…Ta-ta, Ball!” Both Ball’s impotent dejection and Balloon’s glib gloating (so vividly depicted in distilled language and nuanced facial expressions against a white backdrop) arrive as arrows to readers’ hearts, which will recognize both feelings as their own. Digitally compiled mixed-media illustrations offer varied perspectives, from way above the basketball hoop to down at the asphalt, as well as lots of movement, with Ball whizzing and Balloon floating. The cleanliness and clarity of these illustrations facilitate a focus on feelings. Children glean fundamental lessons in empathy, navigating exhilaration and sadness, and the importance of helping others while riding out Ball’s and Balloon’s emotional (and literal) highs and lows.
Entertaining and instructive for the playground set. (Picture book. 2-6)