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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sebastian and the Balloon, written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2014. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"He charted a course.
He checked the breeze.
He cut the strings...
and floated free.

Soon it was time
for a snack.
Sebastian landed his
balloon beside a
leafless tree."

Poor Sebastian! He is one dissatisfied boy...atop his house, he looks out upon his neighborhood and sees nothing to spark enthusiasm in his head, or his heart. Well, if that is to change, it's going to be up to the small unsmiling boy. He makes the decision to change the course of his days and nights.

Using his grandmother's afghans and quilts, and packing every single thing he might ever need, and accepting a bright red cardinal as his travel companion, he sets off on a journey that will lead to new friends, worthy adventure, and endless excitement. Once the strings are cut and the balloon flies freely, Sebastian is at the whim of the wind.

A much needed pickle sandwich snack means a brief stop, where he meets a bear, shares his snack and is happy to welcome his new friend aboard. A foggy sky means trouble when they fly too close to a 'very tall bird'. The balloon pops. As luck would have it, their emergency landing brings them in contact with three sisters whose skill with knitting needles have them all airborne in quick time.

The journey continues....

You know that I am an avid fan of Philip Stead. He never disappoints. His talking animals, his adventurous journeys and his appealing, well-realized characters are only a small part of what leads me to admire his work. Using pastels, oil paints and pressed charcoal, he gives us beautiful images that beg for slow observation and an unhurried read. Young listeners are sure to appreciate the comfort that comes when friends share such beautifully imaginative travels. Don't be surprised to be asked to read it again, and then again!

I would love to make a place in my house for this:

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