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All three of my children have loved the many stories and characters created by Mick Inkpen and we have a much loved collection of classic Inkpen tales. Amongst my sons' favourites is the 'Blue Balloon' - a story which is currently being read and re-read on a nightly basis by my two year old son.
This fun tale is narrated by an unnamed little boy who discovers a soggy blue balloon in his garden. He soon discovers that this is no ordinary balloon. In fact, it is 'indestructible'! One of the things that I do like about Inkpen is that he doesn't try to dumb down a children's story and he includes quite sophisticated vocabulary. My youngest son has been enjoying this story even before his second birthday and, whilst he may not understand every specific word, he does follow the gist of the story.
Where this particular story excels is with the simple but really eye-catching images of the blue balloon. This is very cleverly done with the use of fold-out pages, where the balloon keeps getting bigger and bigger. So big that the pages fold out to four times the usual size to show the balloon! This is really appealing to youngsters, although the folds of that page have become worn and slightly damaged through repeated folding and unfolding - always a sign of a well-loved children's story.
There are a number of folding pages, to indicate where the boy's dog tries to s-t-r-e-e-e-t-c-h the balloon and where the boy is even taken all of the way up to the moon and back (just in time for tea.) All of these features just leave my two year old son wide-eyed with excitement and enjoyment!
Kipper the dog is one of Mick Inkpen's most popular children's book characters and this particular tale sees Kipper's first appearance although this is not a typical Kipper story. Here, Kipper is more of a run of the mill pet dog and can't talk but does have the distinct colouring and is clearly named. My son has a number of Kipper stories so I'm sure the familiar character helps to reinforce his love for this particular tale.
Despite some of the more challenging vocabulary, I would recommend this particular story as a reading aid for new readers as well as a story book for pre-schoolers, especially for children who are already familiar with the story. My five year old son is gradually becoming more confident with his reading skills and is now able to read this story (with minimal assistance) to his younger brother, partly through his concentration on the words and partly through his familiarity with the story and using the pictures as prompts. Both boys are happy to sit together, opening out the folding pages and giggling at the boy's attempts to pop the balloon.
I would highly recommend this book to children from two up to the age of six, where its simplicity and the unusual addition of folding pages just seem to have a special age to young readers. I will be sad when all of my children are too old to enjoy Mick Inpen, especially his magical blue balloon!
The Blue Balloon is a childrens book both written and illustrated by the fantastic Mick Inkpen and was first published in 1989 by Hodder Childrens Books. The book is where young readers are first introduced to the loveabke Kipper.
The story is about a young boy, who has just celebrated his birthday and his dog Kipper. The day after the birthday party, Kipper finds a soggy blue balloon in the garden, which is very strange as all the balloons at the party were red and white! The little boy blows the balloon up and at first he thinks it is just an ordinary balloon - it is shiny and squeaky, you can make rude noises with it too! But, the odd thing about this balloon is that it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger no matter how much it was blown up!! The balloon never ever bursts - the little boy squeezed, squashed, whacked it with a stick, kicked it, ran it over and even stretched it!! Kipper even attacked it but it still wouldn't pop. The little boy thinks it has strange and wonderful powers. One day, the balloon just vanishes and when it reappears it is a square shape. The little boy decides to take the balloon for a walk one afternoon when suddenly it takes him up in the air, higher and higher until they land on the moon! After some fun with a little group of green aliens its time to go back home for tea. So, one day, if you find a soggy old balloon, don't throw it away.......especially if it is a blue one!!
While I think this is quite a sweet story, it isn't one of our favourites to read and it isn't one that my daughter will regularly pull off the shelf to read so maybe we have read it a handful of times. I think this may be because it is a little hard for a two year old to fully understand so I wonder if she will enjoy it more when she is a little older.
One thing that I do really like about the book however, is that a few of the pages fold out - for example when the little boy is blowing up the balloon, the pages fold out to reveal a huge balloon. This is the only part of the book my daughter really enjoys. I think this is a nice introduction to Kipper and a great platform for the books that follow.
Although so far this book isn't a favourite of my daughter's I am sure she will grow to enjoy it more and I would be happy to recommend this book along with any other story by Mick Inkpen. The recommended retail price for this book is £6.99, but I am sure you will find it cheaper online.
Other stories by Mick Inkpen:
One Bear At Bedtime
The Great Pet Sale
The Kipper Books
The Wibbly Pig Books
The Blue Nose Island Books
I give The Blue Balloon four out of five Dooyoo stars, losing one as I do think it is a little difficult for younger children to understand but I do realise that it may be aimed at slightly older children.
Thank you for reading my review :)
This story features one of Mike Inkpens most famous characters - Kipper the dog, although in this story he is not the star. The leading role goes to a soggy old blue balloon found in the garden by a little boy and his dog - kipper. It is not just an ordinary balloon - its magic!! However much you blow it up it just gets bigger and bigger and despite trying every conceivable way the little boy and kipper can not bust it! It is indestructible. It is a very simple story - well written, as are all of Mike Inkpens children's books and beautifully illustrated. Like many of his book, it has lots of flaps to pull and pages to unfold. The only trouble with this is that a child is so eager to see what is inside they are not exactly gentle and these pages end up getting torn in the excitement. It is a great book to read to children and they will soon be telling you what is going to happen next as it is easy to follow the story from the pictures. At £5.99 for the paperback it is a little expensive, but in the long run I would much rather be spending my money on good books than poor quality toys.
The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen tells us all about a blue balloon which oddly appeared in the garden after a party. It was odd because all the balloons had been red and white. Kipper (Star of his own books too) found it, but when it is blown up, it has a special power- it gets bigger and bigger and bigger-and will never burst, no matter how hard you try. The story is fun, suggesting a magic balloon, but as with Mick Inkpen's other work, the most enchanting aspect is the beautiful artwork. The foldout pages are lovely, and children appreciate the way this conveys the abnormal size the balloon attains. Children love this story to be read to them as you share the illustrations, and more confident young readers enjoy being able to read it too. A lovely ending too- it captures the children's imaginations by suggesting that they too could find a balloon like it..... A recommended buy for parents and teachers- though I expect you may already have it!