Where Do Balloons Go?
An Uplifting Mystery
by Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis's Where Do Balloons Go?
Illustrated by Laura Cornell

Children's books review by P.J. Rooks

Amazon.com recommends this book for ages four to eight. More on that in a minute.

Lost a balloon?

Universally feared among parents, the balloon-smack is that self-inflicted red mark on your forehead that whacks your brain with a glaring new meaning to the old phrase, "tie one on."

You know you should, but, alas, you don't, and rapidly into the distance sails the prized balloon. Big trauma, easy fix… too late. Smack! What on earth were you thinking? You thought you could make it to the car, right? Simple enough. It's a short trip. But you didn't account for the micro-hurricane at the grocery store door. Now the bouncy balloon has slipped away on its shiny string. Gone, just like that, and an otherwise happy day has just been splattered with a gusting glob of harsh reality.

The tiny hand stretches up in skyward futility, the tear ducts well with watery betrayal and little lungs launch their protest of the agonizing injustice of it all. You're going to need to dredge up your most creative parenting strategies if you value your eardrums.

Well, are you stumped? Before you embarrass yourself by trudging back into the store with your wailing child to beg for a new one (balloon, not child), wait -- take heart! Jamie Lee Curtis will now teach parents not only how to help children cope with the sudden and unexpected loss of a balloon, but to celebrate its newfound freedom too.

Where Do Balloons Go?

One purple balloon has lost its way, leaving behind a baffle-eyed boy in a swarm of nattering reporters and other concerned citizens. But it might not be the end of the world. Maybe the balloon will find happiness in a wide and imaginative array of services, spas, coffee shops, helium houses and other thoughtful amenities specially designed for the gravitationally challenged.

You never know what bright and blissful future might await.

Are they always alone?
Do they meet up in pairs?
Do they ever get married
and make balloon heirs?
Do they ever write postcards, e-mail or fax?
Do they ever just let down their strings and relax?

Review continues below.

cropped and collaged images from Where Do Balloons Go?

Where DO balloons go? Curtis envisions the lost balloons dancing with birds, racing rocket ships, gathering together from around the world for a high-altitude party and finally recognizes the ultimate, unknowable mystery of their destination, assuring little ones that it's okay to simply remember them fondly and wish them well.

Recommended for ages four through eight, Where Do Balloons Go? actually functions at two different levels and might be better recommended for ages four and eight. A good deal of the humor is lodged in Cornell's comical illustrations -- the book collection of a balloon lounging at the beach, for example, that includes titles like I Was an Aerial Spy and Helium Therapies You Can Do At Home --and is likely to go under-appreciated by pre-readers. Smaller kids, however, will enjoy the fast-paced rhyme and the comforting idea that the balloon can have a life of its own. (Maybe too comforting -- after we read this book, my noble-hearted three-year-old was so enamored with the concept that I had to stop her from setting her next balloon free on purpose.)

Carve out some room on the "important" shelf between your Family Guide to Medical Emergencies, and your What to Expect volumes one through pending and be prepared to quote on demand. Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery is one of those stories that you're going to need, so memorize, write the words on an index card and keep it in your wallet, carry the book with you in the car, whatever it takes. It's so vital, in fact, that you might want to consider petitioning your local hospital to begin distributing a complimentary copy, standard, with every maternity package.

Read more of P.J.'s reviews.

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