Search Results for: my red balloon

my red balloon + red balloons in children’s books

14738335My Red Balloon by Kazuaki Yamada (2014).


This is a picture book to sit with. It seems simple, but there’s something profound about it. A girl with a red balloon boards a yellow bus. The bus stops for a bear (at a bear-shaped bus sign). And the balloon blows away.

my-red-balloon-one(Click image(s ) to enlarge)

The bus driver follows the balloon but always stops for any animal waiting for a ride along the way. Rabbit, penguin, elephant, and finally, giraffe (who happens to have a crow on her back).









Just when the bus full of creatures is upon the elusive red ballon, here comes the crow with its sharp beak. And POP. No more balloon.



It’s never totally clear who is speaking in this book, but I get the sense it’s often that kind bus driver. At the end, I imagine he’s the one who says, “Cheer up…Look up in the sky!”



Everyone looks to the sun, a giant fiery balloon setting in the sky.



“And we’ll see it again tomorrow.”

That moment with the sun, the other red balloon that never blows away or pops, that moment is breathtaking. And here’s where the profound part comes in. The whole journey, going after that red balloon, led the girl and her animal crew to the red balloon sun. The thing that will be constant every day, the thing that marks every day’s journey. The thing we can’t chase after but will never disappoint.

Yeah, I love this book for that idea.

But also for the expressions on the characters’ faces. The heart-shaped trees. The way each spread could be a perfect painting for a child’s room: colorful, complete, yet mysterious.


Thanks to Minedition for images!




As iconic as that yellow school bus or animals in children’s books is that red balloon.


Most iconic? The one from the French film (then book) of the same name. Who wouldn’t be entranced by a bright red balloon with a spirit of its own amidst all that gray?






My other favorites? 


This lovely cover and one spread inside of Where You Came From by Sara O’Leary, illustrations by Julie Morstad.


“Your father saw a red balloon appear, far off in the sky.

And at the end of the string, there you were, holding on for dear life.”



And the classic, Curious George with one balloon (and many)!




This one I’m adding to the post after the fact because Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes pointed it out. Thanks Travis!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee written by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2010).


TheEverygirl_Geronimo_16In real life, my favorite giant balloons of any color come from Geronimo Balloons here in Los Angeles. (Image via The Everygirl.)




And I leave you with this: DIY mini-jumbo balloon cupcake toppers from A Ruffled Life. (Valentine’s Day, calling?!)


Any red balloon references I’ve missed? Please share in the comments!


17072249p.s. I’ve blogged about balloons once before here on This Picture Book Life. Check out Please Bring Balloons + Balloons!










please bring balloons + balloons!!

17072249I adore the kinds of picture books that can be interpreted as either fantastically real adventures or dreams that didn’t actually happen but are flights of fancy instead. Either way, it’s magic.



Please Bring Balloons by Lindsay Ward is one of those books.





 “It appeared unexpectedly.

Peeking out of the polar bear’s saddle, a hint of paper.”



The first page has the word “paper” in it. It’s a note from a carousel polar bear. And paper is also what makes the illustrations in the book so unique. They’re collaged and pasted together with bits of papery stuff—notebook paper, a doily, maps.




The carousel polar bear wants balloons to fly. To fly with the girl. To fly with the girl all the way to the North Pole to dance with other polar bears. (To rumpus with them, in a shout out to Where the Wild Things Are.)






It’s wild and magical, but my favorite line in the book is pretty down to earth:

“Emma was thankful she had worn her boots.”




(Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu comes to mind as an excellent pair to this one. Both have that dreamlike quality and a fabulous white bear leading the way.)


Thanks to Lindsay Ward for the images!



So, balloons!! A polar bears says, bring ’em so here they are!

My first stop for balloon inspiration has got to be Studio DIY.




She decorated O shaped balloons to look like donuts. With sprinkles! How happy are they (and us)?




This is a pretty way to paint balloons that even I could do. (I think.)




DIY Fruit Balloons from Oh Happy Day.



How cool would it be to have these balloon lamps?




This balloon art installation in the Netherlands in 2012 is pretty wonderful.



And Daisy Balloon‘s balloon dresses?  Out of this world.




Bjork wore one once. I rest my case.


Big shout outs to Geronimo Balloon in Los Angeles and Brooklyn Balloon Company too.




My turn. For my latest birthday, my dude, who is kind of a balloon guy, surprised me this way. (Now you know my age and what my bed pillows look like.)




Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 4.20.56 PM




picture book life advice

I often look to picture books for nuggets of wisdom, so here are ten with life advice found in their themes. May they be your literary fortune cookies for the new year!




Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and  Sydney Smith (2015).

A masterful wordless story wherein a girl and father walk home through a city. Only she notices the little blooms of color, collecting them for what becomes a special purpose.




My Pen by Christopher Myers (2015).

Even when you don’t have much influence or money or age, you have the power of your own pen to create something all yours, something limitless.



Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley (2015).

This book cracks me up while hitting at something astute. Superheroes, lucha libre wrestlers, and race car drivers all cry sometimes, just like you.




Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato (2016).

Weddings are wonderful opportunities to embrace tradition and change. Meet worm and worm, a lovely couple who knows top hats and veils don’t define them.




Little Kunoichi The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida (2015).

A ninja girl who isn’t quite a ninja yet. A little samurai who’s not quite a samurai yet. They help each other. They practice. They aren’t perfect, but that’s not really the point.




Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mallick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2015).

A historical story inside a bedtime story for a boy. A soldier and a bear cub. An enduring character based on a real life friendship.


Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 3.28.43 PM


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (2014).

A treasure box of a book about finding the right word and following your passion/obsession/preoccupation/fixation.




Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea (2015).

A brilliant picture book with a message for those of us who don’t like to speak up for fear of upsetting others’ feelings. After all, a good friend wants to hear what you have to say!




Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison (2015).

Poor Bernice. This birthday party is not going her way. And then it takes her up, up, and away! On the way down, she figures out how sharing with others brings its own happy.




My Red Balloon by Kzuaki Yamada (2014).

After a day spent searching for a balloon, a girl, a bus driver, and animal passengers lose it just as they’ve found it. But then, the sunset! Another red balloon that is there day after day, a constant to count on.




when-the-beat-was-bornYou might also like 15 Creative Lessons on Creativity from Picture Books.






16 picture books with knitting and yarn

Because my middle grade novel, Zinnia and the Bees, features a main character who’s a knitter and yarn bomber, I always notice picture books with knitting and yarn (and have great admiration for knitters and crocheters in real life!). So, since I’ve got yarn on the brain, I thought it would be fun to round up a bunch of great picture books featuring yarn and knitting—perfectly cozy reads for winter and good fits for crafters of all kinds.

Plus, because knitting a gift for someone is often a sign of love and friendship, many of these are perfect for Valentine’s Day too. As you’ll see, knitting is often synonymous in story with showing kindness and the connections characters make.


Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon (2012).

One of the sweetest books ever with a scarf-wearing penguin who finds a pinecone, knits it a scarf, and then finds its new friend’s proper home.


Knit Together by Angela Dominguez (2015).

A story of a mother and daughter, one who knits, one who draws, and how they combine talents in an artistic collaboration that connects them—so sweet!



Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius by Katie Harnett (2016).

I adore all the humans in this book, and the way the community comes together over this neighborhood cat. And I adore Mrs. Murray, who knits, and who shares a kinship with Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius that is meant to be.


Last Stop on Market Street, words by Matt De LA Peña, pictures by Christian Robinson (2015).

This wonderful book’s beating heart is Nana and a bus ride she takes with her grandson. Nana demonstrates generosity to CJ, as well as the ability to see beauty. Also, she spends part of the bus ride with needles and yarn.


Bertolt by Jaques Golstyn (2017).

The way knitting figures into this one at the close is kind of a surprise, so I’ll leave it at that. (Hint: yarn bombing!)



A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas (2016).

A girl who wants to do a kindness for the kindest person (and knitter) she knows. A super sweet story, plus pom poms!



Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (2012)

A knitter-yarn bomber is at the center of this fairy-tale-esque book with a surprise ending. If you like the idea of covering anything and everything with colorful yarn and a bit of magic, you’ll like this book.



Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop (2012).

The main character here doesn’t knit, but is known for her signature knit cap as her name. It’s a quiet, meditative quest story of looking to connect with others and the moon.




Edmund Unravels by Andrew Kolb (2015).

This one stars an actual bundle of yarn (and joy) who longs to explore. The only thing is, exploring can mean needing to return home in order to feel whole again.



Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranza and Margaeet Chamberlain (2014).

A creative main character  discovers knitting and eventually completes a fantastic project for the school play. A positive portrayal of being yourself and pursuing your passions.



Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol (2016).

The wildly unexpected story of someone who wants to knit sweaters in peace, and is wiling to go as far away as possible to find it.


Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead (2014).

Sebastian, in a balloon made of quilts and blankets, goes on an adventure to avoid boredom in this story of encounters and twists and turns. And, of course, three knitting sisters!




Cat Knit by Jacob Grant (2016).

Cat is good friends with Yarn, but not so sure about that when Yarn becomes Sweater.


The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz, illustrated by Elena Odriozola (2008).

A story about story, and kindness—the story blanket is a precious place, but is soon needed for its yarn in order to give warm gifts to the community.


Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu (2012).

A set of four stories about sea creature friends, one of whom—Squid—is a knitter. Complete with socks, mittens, tea, and cake, this one delights! Author-illustrator Tao Nyeu even came up with a knitting pattern to go along with the book!


Three Balls of Wool by Henriqueta Cristina and Yarn Kono (2017).

A family must flee their home country and the new place they live feels bleak and uniform—people wear sweaters in only one of three solid colors. A resourceful mother unravels the sweaters in order to make new sweaters, patterned ones that express joy and individuality, and she starts a kind of revolution come spring. This is “…based on the story of a Portuguese family that fled the dictatorship in the late 1960s and lived in exile in Algeria, Romania, and finally Czechoslovakia.”


Please add any titles I missed to the comments! 




















picture books on opposites

opposites-picture-booksThese picture books explore opposites, but not just in terms of stripes or colors, in terms of characters as well. And in both cases, they not only show us what it means to be opposite—horizontal or vertical; black or white—they demonstrate the saying that opposites do, in fact, attract!


Mister Horizontal & Miss Vertical by Noémie Révah and Olimpia Zagnoli (2014).




(click image(s) to enlarge)

Two characters, one drawn to tall, the other to long. Miss Vertical is a fan of elevators, hot air balloons, and bungee jumping. Mister Horizontal likes scooters, naps, and the ocean. And yet, they’re a perfect match.




This is a wonderful book to illustrate a concept, which is a great skill on its own. But it’s so much fun along the way, thanks in large part to the poppy design that dances on the page in all directions. So bold. So graphic. So Olimpia Zagnoli!



Miss Vertical’s gestures are straight and up and down. Mister Horizontals are curved and round. Together, they’re an X and O.


That’s my one of my favorite spreads, Miss Vertical dangling from a tree, the forest background a lot like her shirt. And the perfect pop of red shoe.


The story was inspired by this photograph by René Maltête. So in a spoiler alert, these two have a child at the end of the book. And the child isn’t exactly like mom or dad. Nope, neither type of stripe will do!


Big thanks to Enchanted Lion Books for images!


Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 3.51.18 PM




Black Cat, White Cat by Silvia Borando (2014). 


And now, another kind of opposite! Black and White cats, from the tips of their noses to the tips of their tails. And they like opposite settings, which help them stand out—night and day!


719hInVgsMLBlack Cat likes daytime, when dark-colored swallows soar. White Cat likes nighttime, when bright stars twinkle. But they’re not stuck in their ways. They’re curious cats, adventuring into the reverse unknown.




And there, on the way to new things, they meet. I imagine it’s dusk, but it could be sunrise too. Each experiences new things: fireflies and bumblebees. They discover how much they like to be together.


And at the end, six kittens! And neither black nor white at that. You’ll have to read the book to find out their colorful surprise! (Hint: it’s not a tomato and tasty as juice.)

A pair of picture books. Two love letters to contrast.