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The Purple Balloon
     

The Purple Balloon

4.0 1
by Chris Raschka
 

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When a child becomes aware of his pending death (children tend to know long before the rest of us even want to consider it), and is given the opportunity to draw his feelings, he will often draw a blue or purple balloon, released and unencumbered, on its way upward. Health-care professionals have discovered that this is true, regardless of a child's cultural or

Overview

When a child becomes aware of his pending death (children tend to know long before the rest of us even want to consider it), and is given the opportunity to draw his feelings, he will often draw a blue or purple balloon, released and unencumbered, on its way upward. Health-care professionals have discovered that this is true, regardless of a child's cultural or religious background and researchers believe that this is symbolic of the child's innate knowledge that a part of them will live forever. . . .

 

In disarmingly simple and direct language, accompanied by evocative potato print illustrations, Raschka in conjunction with Children's Hospice International (CHI), creates a moving, sensitive book that is also a phenomenally useful tool to talk about death. The message of the book is clear: talking about dying is hard, dying is harder, but there are many people in your life who can help.

 

Children's Hospice International (CHI), a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, is paving the way for the establishment of children's hospice and related services worldwide.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Raschka (The Hello, Goodbye Window) broaches the topic of death in this solemn book, crafted for terminally ill and/or grieving children. Filmy balloons, potato-printed in muted watercolor on beige backgrounds, drift over the cover and endpapers; balloon heads, with facial features limned in dots of ink and string-lines for bodies, take on the roles of families, friends and professionals. The fragile but buoyant balloon image comes from art therapy, as an author's note explains: "When a child becomes aware of his or her pending death and is given the opportunity to 'draw your feelings,' he or she will often draw a blue or purple balloon, released and floating free." Raschka eases into his distressing subject by first depicting an old person's lined face, on a green balloon, and a child's face on a red balloon. When the elderly person dies, the green tint changes to lavender, the face becomes peaceful and the balloon's string curves and lifts to shape two open arms or angel wings. The predictable death sets up the second act: "There is only one thing/ harder to talk about than/ an old person dying-/ a young person dying." Concerned friends, therapists, doctors and relatives cluster around to support the sinking red-balloon child, whose eyes grow heavy. "Good help makes leaving easier," the text asserts, as the child's gently smiling face looks out from an ascendant lavender balloon. Without going into specifics, Raschka acknowledges pain and fear, and provides a "What You Can Do to Help" list. This evocative, nondenominational book strives to comfort those at hospices and hospitals. All ages. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
"No one likes to talk about dying. It's hard work." But Raschka has the courage and sensitivity to introduce the difficult subject. In simple, unemotional words he tells a reassuring story for children who may be facing death, their friends and relatives. He focuses on all those who offer help and support. The characters in his visual story are represented by balloons with simply sketched faces and strings that act like bodies. The first part of the book seems to concern an old person, perhaps a grandfather, with his helpers, friends, and a sad youngster in need of consolation. The next part moves on to someone young dying, even "harder" to talk about. But "Good help makes leaving easier," for both the one who leaves and those who are left behind. The multicolored balloons, printed with watercolor paints using potato and wood blocks on white or lightly tinted backgrounds, tend to universalize the story, encouraging each reader to make the message his or her own. Raschka's balloons, alone or in groups are sure to provide consolation to parents or friends. There is an introductory note and an added page on "What You Can Do to Help." Sales of the book "help critically ill children."
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4
"No one likes to talk about dying. It's hard work." Yet this simple, honest treatment is an effective vehicle for discussing the "one thing harder to talk about than an old person dying-a young person dying." Taking his cue from terminally ill children who, an introductory note explains, often express their feelings by drawing a free-floating purple or blue balloon, Raschka depicts balloon characters using potato and wood prints rendered in watercolor. Through a few masterful strokes, they become an elderly dying person and those dear to him, or the subject of this narrative, a dying red balloon child and his family and friends. Faces, all focused on the child, express concern, tearful sorrow, and support. Balloon strings encircle child and parents in love, twist to join the youngster to those around him, and curve to become hands reaching out in comfort and reassurance. "Good help makes leaving easier," the text reads. Streaked watercolor background washes change color with the mood, moving from blue to yellow on the final page describing "what you can do to help." Raschka's brief text avoids sentimentality and didacticism and is a good choice for those who want to provide assistance to children about this difficult subject.
—Marianne SaccardiCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
No one explains difficult concepts to children better than Raschka, and this gentle discussion of death is no exception. Using a metaphor almost universally found in the art of dying children, an image of a purple balloon floating free, this deceptively simple and beautifully direct narrative introduces first the passing of an older balloon and then-"There is only one thing harder to talk about than an old person dying"-the death of a child balloon. The unadorned text describes the "many people [who] do what they can to make dying less hard," from doctors to hospice-care workers to family and friends. Potato-print balloons in many colors float about, classic Raschka faces displaying a range of emotions as they go through the "hard work" of dying and assisting at death, their strings forming hand- and arm-like curlicues to embrace each other throughout. The child balloon turns purple as it dies; the reassuring text tells readers that, "Good help makes dying less hard. / Good help makes leaving easier." A portion of the proceeds goes to Children's Hospice International. (Picture book. 3+)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780449811368
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
06/27/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
File size:
13 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

 

Chris Raschka has created over 30 books for children, including the Caldecott Medal–winning A Ball for Daisy, the Caldecott Medal–winning The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, and the Caldecott Honor Book Yo! Yes? He lives in New York City.

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The Purple Balloon 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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