Title: Mathilda and the Orange Balloon
Author: Randall de Seve
Illustrator: Jen Corace
Age Group: 2-5
Synopsis: Mathilda’s world is fairly dull until she sees an orange balloon. Now she’s determined to follow her dreams no matter what the other sheep say.
This is another case of me judging a book by its cover. I know people say not to do that but I just really can’t help myself. I see a sweet, fluffy sheep chasing a cheery orange balloon, I have to investigate. It doesn’t always pan out of course, but luckily for me in this case it did. Mathilda and the Orange Balloon is one of the sweetest, most optimistic books I’ve read in awhile. With a happy-go-lucky attitude and a honey-sweet story it’s hard not to fall a little in love with this smiley-sort of sheep.
At the beginning of the story Mathilda is just an ordinary sheep in a world inhabited mostly by grey. But then an orange balloon floats by. Mathilda is enchanted and inspired what could this marvelous thing be? The other sheep tell her what it is which only encourages Mathilda to become one herself. The other sheep laugh. Mathilda is a sheep, she cannot become an orange balloon. But when Mathilda begins breaking down what the essence of orange or a balloon is. She is round already and can leap around like she’s flying. She can be all that orange is too: fierce, warm, and happy. And with optimism that would make Polly-Anna look cynical, Mathilda lives her dream as an orange balloon. And in doing so, she inspires the other sheep to wake up from their monotonous lives and dream big and bold.
Jen Corace absolutely nails the illustrations in this book masterfully using white space and such a heavy dosage of sweetness that you’ll need to move up your dentist appointment. The sheep and big fluffy and everything cuddly. But the expressions on Mathilda’s face as she grows and explores are priceless in their optimistic adorableness. She fabulously becomes a tiger, a leaf, the sun, and yes, and orange balloon without loosing herself along the way. Bug’s favorite part is at the end when the other sheep become flowers, bees, sailors, and multitude of other imaginative embodiments.
While Mathilda and the Orange Balloon is a very sweet book it also helps deliver a message of self-discovery, and imagination that is always an important goal for us. Mathilda’s ability to overcome naysayers speaks to perseverance while her ability to imagine herself as she desires is an amazing example of creativity. So for all those fluffy sheep existing in a plain grey world out there just keep an eye out for that orange balloon. You never know when it may be floating by.
- Ask your little one how they would describe an orange balloon.
I need more!
Randall de Seve has some great books out there. We love The Duchess of Whimsy but also look for Toy Boat or A Fire Truck Named Red. For more info about her books, check out: http://www.randalldeseve.com/
Jen Corace not only does illustrations but also sells prints, doodads, and goodgads on her website (http://jencorace.com/ ). We’re fans of her other illustration work including: Little Pea and Telephone.