Review: Emily’s Balloon by Komako Sakai
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: Paperback edition, August 4 2015 by Chronicle Books (first published in 2005)
One day, Emily gets a balloon. By the end of the afternoon, the balloon is no longer just a plaything—Emily and the balloon are friends. But when the balloon blows away, what will Emily do? Sweet, compelling, and filled with beautifully evocative illustrations, the timeless innocence of a story about the wonder and discovery of friendship makes this deceptively simple book a classic.
Emily’s Balloon, written and illustrated by Komako Sakai, is one of those gorgeous and quiet gems of a picture book I’m afraid might not get seen and loved by enough people. A relatively simple story of a young girl and her yellow balloon is lifted by Sakai’s unassuming and effortless text and feather-light illustrations. Sakai’s illustrative style is unfettered and interestingly muted: perhaps it not may be to everyone’s taste but I find that there is something inherently classic- ageless- about it. The illustrations by Sakai here make me think back to my childhood and the illustrations I loved (and still love) in the Ernest H. Shepard illustrated versions of Winnie-the-Pooh. Speaking further to the classic appeal of Emily’s Balloon, I discovered that this picture book was first published in 2005- and just over ten years later, this book and story are arguably just as relatable and appealing to children and adults now as it would have been back then.
Overall, I highly recommend Emily’s Balloon. From the volumes I have read in picture books, I find that it is difficult to make a straightforward and uncomplicated story sing and resonate- but Sakai does just that here. This picture book is truly beautiful: a soft and wistful story that will likely speak to all young ones (and will likely be appreciated by adults as well!). I think readers who enjoy their stories on the more serene and introspective side- along the lines of Birgitta Sif, Julie Morstad, Giselle Potter or Marianne Dubuc- might especially enjoy this lovely tale.
I received a copy of this book from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.