Balloons for Papa: A Story of Hope and Empathy

HarperCollins/Harper. Apr. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063081130.
PreS-Gr 1–Young children have a greater capacity for emotional understanding than they sometimes get credit for. Ever since Arthur’s mama went to the hospital, dreary, gray feelings have settled over him and his papa. Every day on their way to visit Arthur’s mama, he and his papa pass a balloon seller in the park. Her brightly colored wares call to Arthur, but despite his persistence, his papa refuses Arthur’s request to purchase one. A happy accident lands several balloons on Arthur’s doorstep one morning, returning color to his muted world. Families who have ever experienced profound sadness together will immediately recognize the drab, melancholy pages of this book. Low hanging clouds mirror the characters’ emotions, appearing in stark contrast to the balloons. Short, simple text is placed in and around each illustration, becoming as much a part of the visual story as the images themselves. The intentional use of colors in carefully calibrated circumstances greatly enhances the emotional component of this story. A wide representation of ages and skin tones inhabit the scenes, while Arthur and his papa both have light complexions. An author’s note at the end gives readers some context for the purpose behind the story.
VERDICT This important story of connection through sadness is beneficial to children and adults alike.

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