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Children's LiteratureA young boy anxiously awaits the arrival of his dad from military duty at sea. The boy's excitement is tempered by doubts. Will his dad know him? Will he rush to greet him? It has been a long time and there will be a crowd of people on the dock when the ship comes in. This story, by the author of Smokey Nights is timely and yet timeless because most kids can relate to such worries and fears even at joyful moments. The boy carries a red balloon with WELCOME HOME printed on it and his mom has written to his dad telling him to look for the balloon. As they wait on the dock, the balloon comes loose and, floats upward and the boy's worries intensify. But the balloon drifts up to the ship, welcoming all the sailors home and the boy's dad spots him and rushes to give him a big hug. The watercolor illustrations of a hesitant little boy and a loving family add to the appeal of this story. 2005, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 4 to 8.
—Carolyn Mott Ford