Anyone who has school aged children likely knows the pain of inevitably having to explain loss to them. Our own children suffered the loss of one of our cats, then Grandpa and Grandma, followed by a dear Uncle and their only remaining Grandma. And even since then we have had more pets pass away. My kids are now 11 and 13, but when they were younger and we knew that one Grandma was not likely to win her battle with cancer we started preparing the older child with books. Books about complex social issues can be a really great window into their lives and a jumping off point for discussions about subjects that they might not yet have words for. Charlotte’s Web and Robert Munsch’s The Lighthouse were favourites of ours back then.
This past month I was introduced to a new children’s picture book about grief. My Yellow Balloon takes an interesting topic and makes it extremely accessible to many by making a tangible object the item that’s lost. The yellow balloon becomes a metaphor for loss and grief. My Yellow Balloon by Tiffany Papageorge is the story of a child gifted a yellow balloon at the carnival. Joey and his balloon do everything together until one day the balloon escapes into the sky and flies away. The balloon raises the subject of grief, love and loss as Joey tries to cope with the loss of an object that was dear to him. Complex emotions arise, as they would in any child experiencing a loss, and the colour vanishes from Joey’s world as he processes sadness and anxiety and all the other big emotions. By using an object, and not a human being, the author gives a complex subject a bit of distance. I enjoyed that actually. It has the effect of gently easing into the topic of grief and death and loss.
My Yellow Balloon is written by author and speaker Tiffany Papageorge. It is beautifully illustrated by Erwin Madrid and has already won many awards. My Yellow Balloon is a great addition to any library. My Yellow Balloon by Minoan Moon publishing has bright and cheery illustrations and is really a keepsake kind of book. It sells for $18.99 US.