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THE LOONEE BALLOONEES IN LEAVING BALLOONEE ISLAND

Author: U. Burch

Illustrator: Melanie Whitten

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Publisher: Gertrude Publishing,

Material: hard cover

Summary: In Balloonland, there are two kinds of inhabitants: the grey, round balloons, and the Loonee Balloonees who were colorful and came in every shape and size. When Balloonland got too crowded the Loonies decided it was time to find a new home, closer to the ground. That wasn't as easy as it sounds, because Balloonees float up, not down. Could they solve their dilemma? This is a rhyming story with balloons as the main characters.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 2 to 8; read yourself: 5 to 9

Interest Level: 2 to 6

Age of Child: Started reading with 5-year-old child.

Young Reader Reaction: The idea of having an all-day picnic and eating chocolate cake is what brings our child back to this book night after night. This has been a must-read in our evening repertoire for nearly a week.

Adult Reader Reaction: The story is cute enough, and the rhyming matches pretty well, but a week is more than enough to keep reading this book. The story had so much more potential ... most of which gets lost in the silliness of constantly saying "loonee balloonee."

Pros: Balloons (particularly ones with friendly faces) are always popular with kids, and the collection in this book will give them something to look at for days on end.

Cons: The author alludes to an us-versus-them element in the story, but then doesn't develop it. Taken as written, the Loonees just LEAVE rather than try to understand "the other" balloons. Truly a missed opportunity for a lesson for kids.

Borrow or Buy: Skip it. While a rhyming story with balloons is fun, the presentation is mediocre. Not every book has to have a lesson, but the author sets up then walks away from a perfect story about acceptance for an audience who would eat it right up.

If You Liked This Book, Try: MOONBEAR'S FRIEND   MOO, COW, MOO! (Babysmart Level 3)   GORP'S DREAM: A TALE OF DIVERSITY, TOLERANCE, AND LOVE IN PUMPERNICKEL PARK

Educational Themes: The story opens the door to talking about acceptance, diversity, and friendship, not to mention creative problem solving.

Notes: Order through the publisher. This book is not available through bn.com (Barnes & Noble) or borders.com

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, adventure

Date(s) Reviewed: June 2007

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