Today, Perfect Picture Book Friday features one of my favorite new picture books of 2018. This is one that so many of us can relate to having witnessed the sadness of aging relatives who are experiencing memory loss. For children who are watching a grandparent lose their memories and grow more distant, THE REMEMBER BALLOONS will help them understand the process and find a bit of joy they can hold on to.
Title: The Remember Balloon
Written by: Jessie Oliveros
Illustrated by: Dana Wulfekotte
Simon & Schuster 2018
Suitable for ages: 5-9
Themes/topics: Aging, grandparents, memories, family
I have lots and lots of balloons, way more than my little brother.
“This one’s my favorite,” I tell him, pointing to the balloon filled with my last birthday party.
James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.
But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice!
Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.
Activities and Resources:
Discuss or Write: Share one of your favorite family memories with someone.
Art: Draw your favorite “balloon.” Choose a color for your balloon that connects to the memory. Share it with someone who has this same memory.
Interview a grandparent, aging neighbor, or friend. Ask them about one of their favorite memories.
Why I like this book:
This tender story about an aging grandparent experiencing memory loss makes a very difficult time of life comprehensible for a child. Memories, just like the balloons used to represent them, are shared and sometimes slip away. The story doesn’t skip over the frustration or anger or sadness that comes with memory loss, but lets the reader move through these emotions until finally finding the joy held in shared memories and the responsibility of transferring them to others along the way. It’s a beautiful metaphor and a vital story for children, as well as their parents, as they deal with a loved one whose memories are fading. It truly touched my heart and is one of those rare books that gave me goosebumps.
Jessie Oliveros will be back in December with a “Mining for Heart” post on this book.
Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.