A Bang-Up Graduation: A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood
"NO FAIR," SAID ISABEL.
"YEAH, NO FAIR!" SAID WALTER.
IT WAS TWO DAYS BEFORE GRADUATION.
IN TWO DAYS THE POSSUMS,THE RACCOONS, AND ALL THE OTHER ANIMALS WOULD GET BALLOONS.
BUT NOT THE PORCUPINES.
Porcupine preschoolers Isabel and Walter are tired of watching their classmates get holiday balloons while they get yet another bookmark. It's high time for a porcupine protest.
Ms. Quill, prickle-covered too, admits to a secret balloon yen herself, but points out patiently that balloons are definitely a bust around porcupines. They're just not safe for the pop prone, she adds. Someone could be frightened by the big bang, and a flying popped balloon could cause an eye injury. Walter and Isabel suggest graduation goggles for everyone, but Ms. Quill persists with her no-pop protocol.
Isabel, however, is not yet out of anti-pop plans. From a cardboard box she fashions a pop-stopping set of armor, but finds she has a definite doorway problem. Pillows strapped over their quills are easily perforated, leaving a trail of down everywhere they go. Wrapping Walter in plastic bubble wrap just sets their classmates off in a popping party around Walter's protective packing at school.
There's only one day left to come up with a pop-proofing plan. Then, at a cookout in his backyard, Isabel admires the table spread with candies from Walter's father's sweet shop. Her sharp eyes fall upon a jar of brightly colored gumdrops. "Poof!" Isabel spots a possible solution!
The next day Isabel, jelly candies impaled on the tip of every quill, bursts into the classroom.
"WE'RE POP-PROOFED!" SHOUTED ISABEL. "NOW MAY WE HAVE BALLOONS?"
Isabel and Walter reveal their graduation day pop-proof quill-dos--each quill prettily capped with a bright gumdrop, ready for their graduation balloons just like the rest of their class.
MS. QUILL BLINKED. SHE STARED. SHE TOUCHED ONE OF ISABEL'S GUMDROPS WITH HER PAW.
"I DON'T SEE WHY NOT," SHE SAID FINALLY.
"ARE THERE ANY GUMDROPS LEFT?" WHISPERED MS. QUILL.
Success is sweet, and Isabel, Walter, and even Ms. Quill join the pop-proof balloon-bearing parade at graduation.
Deborah Underwood's new A Balloon for Isabel (HarperCollins, 2010) is a great tribute to the powers of mind over matter as the persistent Isabel finds the perfect plan to realize her dream of marching with her own graduation balloon in hand. Laura Rankin helps out Underwood's deft foreshadowing (Walter eagerly swaps the ubiquitous gumdrops in his lunchbox for Isabel's broccoli) with her palette of jelly-bean colors, right down to Isabel's seemingly endless supply of pastel Mary Jane Jellies and Ms. Quill's bead necklaces which look like a string of gumdrops themselves. The final page, showing the happy Walter and Isabel--not to mention Ms. Quill, with her jelly-do, a huge pink balloon, and a very satisfied smile--will surely bring a smile to readers as well.