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The Purple Balloonby Chris Raschka
Synopses & Reviews
When a child becomes aware of his pending death (children tend to know long before the rest of us even want to consider it), and is given the opportunity to draw his feelings, he will often draw a blue or purple balloon, released and unencumbered, on its way upward. Health-care professionals have discovered that this is true, regardless of a child's cultural or religious background and researchers believe that this is symbolic of the child's innate knowledge that a part of them will live forever. . . .
In disarmingly simple and direct language, accompanied by evocative potato print illustrations, Raschka in conjunction with Children's Hospice International (CHI), creates a moving, sensitive book that is also a phenomenally useful tool to talk about death. The message of the book is clear: talking about dying is hard, dying is harder, but there are many people in your life who can help.
Children's Hospice International (CHI), a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, is paving the way for the establishment of children's hospice and related services worldwide.
"Raschka (The Hello, Goodbye Window) broaches the topic of death in this solemn book, crafted for terminally ill and/or grieving children. Filmy balloons, potato-printed in muted watercolor on beige backgrounds, drift over the cover and endpapers; balloon heads, with facial features limned in dots of ink and string-lines for bodies, take on the roles of families, friends and professionals. The fragile but buoyant balloon image comes from art therapy, as an author's note explains: 'When a child becomes aware of his or her pending death and is given the opportunity to 'draw your feelings,' he or she will often draw a blue or purple balloon, released and floating free.' Raschka eases into his distressing subject by first depicting an old person's lined face, on a green balloon, and a child's face on a red balloon. When the elderly person dies, the green tint changes to lavender, the face becomes peaceful and the balloon's string curves and lifts to shape two open arms or angel wings. The predictable death sets up the second act: 'There is only one thing/ harder to talk about than/ an old person dying — / a young person dying.' Concerned friends, therapists, doctors and relatives cluster around to support the sinking red-balloon child, whose eyes grow heavy. 'Good help makes leaving easier,' the text asserts, as the child's gently smiling face looks out from an ascendant lavender balloon. Without going into specifics, Raschka acknowledges pain and fear, and provides a 'What You Can Do to Help' list. This evocative, nondenominational book strives to comfort those at hospices and hospitals. All ages." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When a child becomes aware of his pending death and is given the opportunity to draw his feelings, he will often draw a blue or purple balloon. In conjunction with Childrens Hospice International (CHI), 2006 Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka creates a moving and sensitive book. Full color.
About the Author
Chris Raschka has created over 30 books for children, including the Caldecott Medal–winning A Ball for Daisy, the Caldecott Medal–winning The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, and the Caldecott Honor Book Yo! Yes? He lives in New York City.
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