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MATHILDA AND THE ORANGE BALLOON

Author: Randall de Seve

Illustrator: Jen Corace

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Publisher: Balzer and Bray, an Imprint of HarperColling Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Mathilda is a sheep. She lives with her grey flock near a drab green barn, surrounded by grey rocks, drab green grass, and grey clouds. But Mathilda sees an Orange Balloon and wants to become an Orange Balloon. Her flock shoots down her idea, but she persists and convinces them that, indeed, she CAN be an orange balloon! Then they start to wonder what colorful things they can become, too, with just a little imagination! An endearing story of the power of imagination to overcome the confines of mediocrity!

Type of Reading: bedtime story,playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read, developing reader

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 7; read yourself: 8 to 10

Interest Level: 3 to 8

Reading Level: 2.5

Age of Child: Read with two boys, ages 3 and 5.

Young Reader Reaction: My children really liked this book. My 5 year old probably got more of a lesson out of this book than my 3 year old, because the lesson is a little abstract. However, my 3 year old still liked looking at the pictures and trying to describe what was going on.

Adult Reader Reaction: I loved this book! Mathilda is a trailblazer! She wouldn’t let ANYONE tell her what she can’t do! She brings so much JOY and HOPE into her flock. She is young, but she is strong and strong-willed in a way that will make every reader fall in love with her! She reminds me of Heidi or Flick (from “A Bug’s Life” movie). The pictures are darling, but the story is really what makes this book special. I also loved that it opened up a whole conversation with my kids about how to describe things. You can use color, shape, feeling (emotions and touch), and perception to describe things. Also to expand the definition of those adjectives, so that things that don’t exactly look alike (say, a sheep and an orange balloon), can still be similar in some ways. This is a very sophisticated book.

Pros: Sweet illustrations, a wonderful message and lots of layers make this a must-read book.

Cons: None! The sophistication may fool you and make it too hard for young listeners to "get." Still, they can enjoy the images.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. You may want to borrow this first to see if your child gets the message. Later, when they become independent readers, it might be fun to get them this book so they can remember to think independently.

If You Liked This Book, Try: THE THINGS A STRING CAN BE   CHOWDER   ALEX AND THE AMAZING LEMONADE STAND

Educational Themes: There is so much to do with this book. In addition to enjoying the story and talking about perseverance and using your imagination, you can talk about and explore adjectives, shapes, colors, creative problem solving and thinking outside the box, as well as contrasting/comparing things to finding similarities and differences.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, animal characters, colors

Date(s) Reviewed: September 2010

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