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Mathilda and the Orange Balloon
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Mathilda and the Orange Balloon

by Randall de Seve, Jen Corace (Illustrator)

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How can a small sheep become a big orange balloon?

With a lot of imagination and determination—anything is possible!


How can a small sheep become a big orange balloon?

With a lot of imagination and determination—anything is possible!

Editorial Reviews

New York Times (review by Daniel Handler)
Praise for Jen Corace, LITTLE HOOT:“Corace’s illustrations similarly provide bounce and verve.”
Booklist (starred review)
Praise for Randall de Seve:“With plenty of buoyant charm and imaginative artwork, this contemporary Little Toot has an abundance of child appeal.”
Praise for Jen Corace, Hansel and Gretel:“Corace’s distinctive illustrations feature strong composition, confident line work, and a fine sense of color.”
Publishers Weekly
Corace’s (Little Oink) illustrations are the principal charm of this quirky story about a thought experiment done by a flock of sheep. “Orange balloon...” says Mathilda, after one floats over her pasture. “That’s me!” Full of joy at the magnificent sight she’s just seen, she works to convince her fellow sheep that there’s no reason she can’t, in fact, be an orange balloon. The pleasures of Corace’s work include the authoritative black outlines of the sheep, their creamy fleece and smashed-flat faces, and Mathilda’s morphing into a tiger, falling leaf, and fiery sun, all of which embody “orange” to the sheep. The visual and emotional apex comes as Mathilda envisions herself as a soaring balloon, orange, puffy, and most of all happy. Her realization frees the rest of the flock: “Then the sheep realized—anything was possible.” One envisions himself a sailor on a boat, another a yellow school bus, and a third a honey bee. De Sève’s (The Duchess of Whimsy) reasoning may elude very young readers, but the sounds and feelings of the words will not, and Corace’s vignettes provide satisfying clarity. Ages 3–6. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
The message that imagination goes a long way towards helping one's dreams come true is rightfully a common theme of books for preschoolers. In this case, it is Mathilda, one small gray sheep who sees an orange balloon and asks more experienced gray sheep what is an orange balloon. As each stops munching long enough to name one attribute, Mathilda pictures herself as round, flying like a balloon, and orange—which they say is a big and fierce color like a tiger, but also warm as wool, like the sun, and happy. In Mathilda's imagination she puts all of these qualities together and in the end sees herself transformed from a gray sheep to a happy orange balloon. Corace's softly colored illustrations have the same whimsical force they had in Rosenthal's Little Pea. Young children are likely to enjoy exercising their imaginations along with Mathilda as they read and reread this book. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Mathilda is the only lamb in her flock that wears a bell, the only one with flushed cheeks and a white face, and the only one with a big imagination. She doesn't see herself as just another gray sheep, and she is not one to limit her dreams, no matter what anyone says. Despite her dull surroundings, she envisions herself as a bright orange balloon floating happily in the sky. Ultimately, she inspires others to think big, too. The short sentences that make up the dialogue provide some dry humor. The ink and watercolor illustrations depict extremely fluffy sheep, a few clumps of green grass, and gray stones against a white background and are enhanced with the color orange once Mathilda starts to compare herself to the balloon. Very young children might not understand why the rocket, bus, bee, and flowers in the closing spread have sheep faces, but those who are older should be able to connect the idea of believing in oneself with the outcome of the story.—Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada
Kirkus Reviews
Refusing to follow the boring herd mentality of her grazing companions, a visionary little sheep uses her imagination to achieve the impossible. Mathilda's world of grass, sky, stones and lots of other sheep seems small until a magnificent orange balloon catches her eye. Enchanted, Mathilda immediately proclaims she, too, is an orange balloon. The other sheep laugh, warning Mathilda she'll never be anything but a gray sheep since she's not round, can't fly and isn't orange like the balloon. Undaunted, Mathilda happily proceeds to creatively visualize herself into a round, flying, orange balloon proving "anything was possible." Relying on black outlines, simple shapes and effective use of white space, Corace's precise watercolor-and-ink illustrations reinforce the upbeat message of possibility. She artfully contrasts the dull gray-and-green existence of the sheep with the alluring bright orange balloon as it floats across the pages to spark Mathilda's exuberant, imaginative and infectious flight of fancy. The unflappable Mathilda will tickle and inspire. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Randall de Sève made her debut as an author with the New York Times bestseller Toy Boat, illustrated by Loren Long. She is also the author of The Duchess of Whimsy, illustrated by her husband, Peter de Sève. Randall lives with him and their two daughters in Brooklyn, New York.

Jen Corace is an artist and freelance illustrator who lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island. Originally from the suburbs of southern New Jersey, she eventually made her way to the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a BFA in illustration. Jen has previously collaborated with Amy Krouse Rosenthal on Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Hoot.

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