Mathilda and the Orange Balloon

Mathilda and the Orange Balloon by Randall de Seve, illustrated by Jen Corace.

Mathilda’s world is small, only a few things in it: gray skies, green grass, green barn, gray stones, and gray sheep.  It was all ok, until she saw the bright orange balloon float past.  Then all she wanted to be was an orange balloon herself.  First, she made herself as round as the balloon.  The hardest part is turning herself orange.  The other sheep offer up ideas of things that are orange: fierce tigers, the sun, autumn leaves.  Mathilda imagined herself orange and round as hard as she could and suddenly, there she was, a Mathilda-shaped orange balloon.  That was when the lives of all of the sheep changed.

A wonderful book about the power of dreams and imagination, this book is simple and delightful.  De Seve’s writing is straight-forward and plain, offering a wonderful contrast between it and the subject matter.  Corace’s illustrations use white space to great advantage, emphasizing the simplicity of Mathilda’s world until imagination enters it.  Her sheep have great personality, with winning facial expressions.

Bravo for such a creative little book that takes imagination into reality with no hesitation.  This will make any sheep story time less gray and more colorful!  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Harper Collins.

Also reviewed by Creative Literacy.


Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

Combine a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book with a graphic novel and you have this book.  Open the book and you are immediately stopped and the format is explained.  Follow the tubes, they move in all directions, and you get the chance to make all sorts of choices.  The first choice you have is ice cream: chocolate or vanilla.  That small decision sets you off on an adventure that could involve a time machine, entropy or even immortality.  The choice is yours.  Chocolate or vanilla?

Shiga has taken the best of both formats and combined them into a stellar book.  Readers get to make decisions that have direct impact on the storyline, they get to try to figure out codes to reach new areas, and there is the joy of a book with thousands of potential stories inside it.  At the same time, it also has the appeal of a comic book.  It’s filled with humor as well as drama.  One never knows where the next turn in the tube or story will take you, making it virtually impossible to put down until you have tried story after story after story.

Highly recommended for all library graphic novel collections, this book will be adored be reluctant readers, embraced by comic lovers, and simply enjoyed by most.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by 100 Scope Notes, Books4YourKids, and Comic Book Resources.