The Remember Balloons by J. Oliveros
Oliveros, Jessie. The Remember Balloons. Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children – Simon and Schuster, 2018
This beautifully written story tells of a young boy and his dear relationship with his aging Grandfather. Connected through balloons that hold memories and stories, the young boy notices his Grandfather begins to lose his balloons and eventually his memory, even of knowing his beloved grandson. Confused and upset, the young boy cannot understand why this is happening and tries in vain to save his Grandfather’s balloons. Saddened, the boy seeks his parent’s help whereby they show him that he now has a whole new set of balloons—his Grandfather’s. In acquiring these treasured memories, the young boy discovers a new way to be with his Grandfather through retelling him all his old stories.
Illustrated in pencil sketch with minimal colour other than the varied and vibrant balloons, Oliveros speaks to children in a beautifully relatable manner about memories and stories and the connections to the people we cherish. It gently acknowledges the difficult changes in relationships as a loved one experiences the changes of aging and memory loss and guides the reader to find new ways to experience their stories and build new connections.
The subtle acknowledgement of mixed-race families and friend groups also lends itself to a realistic and contemporary view of family and culture, further strengthening the relatability of this story to a wider readership.
Recommended and appropriately written for ages 5-9 years, the book’s themes of keeping our memories close in our varied balloons and maintaining our connections with family even as relationships change, lends itself to a far greater age demographic.
Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Deanna Townsend
Deanna Townsend is currently an Open Studies student and prospective graduate student with the Master of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta. She is currently working in the Learning Commons/Library of an Elementary-Junior High School with Edmonton Public School Board. Her keen area of interest is in the transformation of school libraries/learning commons to modern, usable education spaces that inspire children to explore and learn beyond the classroom.
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