Saturday, March 9, 2013

BEDTIME STORY REVIEW: "The Legend of Papa Balloon"

This week, I read “The Legend of Papa Balloon” to my kids for a bedtime story.  The story involves a land where the people are divided into four villages that each makes their buildings from one building material, and of all things would you guess that is balloons .  Each community only builds with one color of balloon. There is a Red Village, Green Village, Blue Village and a Purple Village in the story.  Each balloon village thinks there color is the best and its residents have their own unique trait. Also each village believes its residents are superior to the other villagers and no one really cooperates or communicates with one another. 

One day a mysterious grandfatherly gentleman arrives to the land and visits each of the villages.  He shows the villagers that they may have different ideas and routines but in the overall scheme of life they really are not that unique from one another after all.  Papa Balloon as the mysterious figure is named by the children of the villages shows that when light passes through a clear balloon you can see all of the colors of the villages together in a rainbow that includes red, green, blue, and purple united together.  

The book has a nice message for young children that you should treat other people’s cultures, traditions, opinions and religions with tolerance and respect.  It also cultivates the positive concept of being inclusive of your neighbors even if they may be different from you.  It presents these weighty subjects though in a fun and lighthearted manner that makes it easy for little ones to grasp the topics presented in the book.

While I did not  have a problem with this, a point some parents may want to be cautious of is that the author treats the differences between the villages from a spiritual or religious perspective.  The villages all worship “the Light” and believe that “the Light” is best observed through only the colored balloon their village utilizes.  I unfortunately have witnesses some despicable behavior by residents in my community acting out in bigoted and rude behavior against those who have differing religious views so I was pleased to share this viewpoint of tolerance and understanding with my children.  Also some people may be concerned that the villagers worship “the Light” instead of referencing God, Yahweh, or Allah.  I understand that the author most likely took this approach to avoid any bias of  specific religious affiliation and present the topic in a more spiritual approach which I respect. If you have concerns about religion being included as an aspect of a children’s book storyline or the spiritual nature of the villagers worshiping “the Light” you should read the book yourself before sharing it with your children to make sure it meets your approval.

I found the book to be a well drawn colorful story with some nice teachable moments in it.  Most importantly my kids enjoyed me reading it to them.  If you are looking for some nice short stories that are nicely illustrated to share with your kids at bedtime check out “The Legend of Papa Balloon”. 

The Legend of Papa Balloon” published by Schiffer Publishing is written by C.R. McClure and illustrated by Steven Kernen.  It is a 40 page hardcover book with 30 vibrant illustrations.  It will be available for purchase March 28, 2013 from and other retailers.

I received a complimentary advance e-book reviewer’s copy of “The Legend of Papa Balloon” from the publisher. The opinions and thoughts in this review are my own.

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