Saturday, March 22, 2014

How 'bout a Lift? Please Bring Balloons by Lindsay Ward

On her way to school, Emma just happens to pass a carousel with a handsome polar bear mount. She can't help noticing a piece of paper peeking out from under his saddle. It shows a simple line drawing of a balloon on a string. The note says


Obligingly, Emma brings a helium balloon by the next morning and ties it to the saddle.

The next morning there is another note, with a drawing of a bunch of balloons.


It's a bit of a trick to tow a bunch of flighty balloons along on her way by the carousel, but as the bemused Emma tells herself,


When she finishes tying each of the strings to Polar Bear's saddle, Emma cannot resist hopping up on his back, but when she does, the bear lifts off his spot on the merry-go-round and floats up into the sky for a fanciful flight to the stars. As they fly toward the North Star, Emma warms herself by leaning forward against the bear's furry neck, and they soon land in crunchy white snow, where she finds her school shoes have become red snow boots.  And as she follows in the bear's snowy prints, she finds herself where a bunch of polar bears in colorful costumes dance for her in the snow under the midnight moon.

It is a pretty good adventure, all in all,  although Emma falls asleep and finds herself back in her own bed, with morning already breaking. She hurries into her school clothes and hustles toward school. But there's another note stashed in Polar Bear's saddle. Emma just has to check it.


It sounds as if more adventures are in store for Emma, in Lindsay Ward's Please Bring Balloons (Dial, 2013). Is Emma's adventure a dream or a fantasy trip to the far North? Lindsay Ward's dreamlike illustrations don't give anything away, and that will just fine with young dreamers who enjoy her stellar artwork. "Lined paper, spattered night skies, and washes of white paint over maps and algebraic equations infuse Ward's cut-paper, pencil and watercolor collages with texture and interest," writes Kirkus Reviews.

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