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Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?
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Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Dan Richards teams up with celebrated artist, Jeff Newman, to share a funny and vibrant picture book about how powerful a child’s imagination can be…with a little encouragement.

Evan asks a simple question, “Can one balloon make an elephant fly?”

At first, his mother is too busy to answer. But when she takes the time to play the game with her son…magic happens.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  291 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Fun Children's Stories About Perspective
A young boy, visiting the zoo with his mother, wonders if one balloon can make an elephant fly in this new picture-book offering from author Dan Richards and illustrator Jeff Newman. His mother, thinking that he is referring to a real elephant, tells him it can't. Then she realizes (or thinks she does) that he is referring to his toy elephant, and takes a different tack. This continues as they pass and discuss the other zoo residents...

Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly? offers an interesting
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
on a visit to a zoo, a little boy wonders how many balloons will make each animal fly. I like this book because it shows an African American mother and son having an everyday experience. Children's lit needs more books like this one! ...more
Michele Knott
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really liked the illustrations and colors. I liked the idea the child believed in something and it happened.
Mireille Messier
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Although I really wanted to, I couldn't get on board with the premise of the story. Hopefully kids will! ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Nov 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-recommended
Richards, Dan Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly? Illustrated by Jeff Newman. PICTURE BOOK. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. $17.99.

While at the zoo, a boy realizes his mom is ignoring him in order to look at her phone. He begins asking her how many balloons it would take to make various animals fly. When his mother finally looks up, she realizes he's actually referencing toy animals instead of real ones.

This book just didn't come together for me. The text feels incomplete, conf
I love the illustrations on this. Colorful and full of expression that one needs to look for--best seen in lap-read and read-alone. I had to re-start the book 4 times because I was missing various aspects. It is nice to see the mother trying to, as she thinks, make her son happy. But it is humorous to see the twist at the end--especially the last page spread. If I try this in storytime I will likely have to point out a couple of things.

2/15/17 Used in Literacy Moment in F preschool theme. Had ch
Ms Threlkeld
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
Very sparse text and subtle action. Not sure most kids will notice the small details.
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: elephants
A sweet read although I don't recommend it for storytime. I could see it as a great discussion book when reading together with an adult. ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book might have been improved with a clearer vision of the type of audience it wanted to attract. It fell halfway between something whimsical like Seuss and something deadpan and sparse like Jon Klassen. It was clear to me that the mom and the kid have different objectives, but the text AND the illustrations both fail to communicate this to children on their own. It could still be a well loved book by some children if the adult reading it to them is committed enough. The idea is quite cute.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love this book. It is so freaking cute. But ... it is not a good storytime book (wah wah wah)
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Very lovely illustrations
Ms. B
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture, 2017
A cute premise, can one balloon make an animal float? What about two or three?
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book for imagination/pretend but had to explain that part to my kindergartener before she got it.
Donna Mork
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cute art work. Interesting concept. Was not sure on the ending, seemed sort of open ended and I like finished work.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: story-time
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookworm's Nemesis
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Definitely enjoyed the artwork.
Alyssa Gudenburr
A very cute book about a boy who wonders if balloons can make various animals fly at the zoo.
Syntha Green
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
delightful flight of fancy
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Got this to read to the kids and then my oldest picks it up and reads it before ever hearing it 😭. It also made them miss the zoo
For some reason, this reminded me of WAIT!
Joanne Roberts
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautiful vintage-feel book with interesting concept. Great title. Predictable outcome makes it for much younger audience. Slightly unbelievable plotline could be considered more of a one-note, but book is so beautifully executed. Expressive characters reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats and Brinton Turkle.
Nancy Kotkin
The concept for this picture book is good, but the execution is hazy. Some of the illustrations are unclear to me.
I had a hard time understanding what was going on in this book, and therefore didn't really connect with it. I'm glad it includes diverse characters, but it's not one I would suggest for purchase. ...more
While on a trip to the zoo, one young boy wonders whether a balloon could lift an elephant high into the sky. He asks his mother, and after a moment of hurt feelings and misunderstanding, the two walk the zoo together distributing balloons to the animals.

At each enclosure, the boy ties his balloons to the animals he meets, while Mom ties her balloons around action figures representing the animals of the zoo and both are happy with the results by story's end.

Imaginative and beautifully illustrat
Amanda (Cover2CoverMom)
I really don't have a whole lot to say about this book, as there wasn't much to the actual story.  This was my biggest issue with the book: I wanted more story.  The premise of this story is how many balloons would it take for certain animals to fly.  This was a book of few words, many pages only included pictures.  Definitely not a good book for story time, but would be better as a one-on-one read.  I did really enjoy the charcoal style illustrations, and think it is worth it to pick this book ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
The children's librarian where I volunteer was wondering about using this book for storytime. After I read it, I admitted that I didn't quite get the 'gist' of the ending. It looked like large animals falling from the sky! Even the librarian was questioning the use of this book and we both decided that it may not work well for storytime.

The artwork was great and very few words (some repetitive phrases). It's also great that it uses a child of color as the lead character!
Juliana Lee
When Evan asks if one balloon can make an elephant fly, his mother thinks he's talking about his small toy zoo animal. But with a little encouragement from mom, Evan ties balloons on the tails of all the zoo animals and his mom ties balloons to the toy animals. At the end of the trip his mom releases all the toys into the air while Evan watches the real animals float away! ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mock-caldecott
I know I sometimes take picture book plots too seriously, but I had a real problem with the balloons being released into the air to go choke a turtle somewhere. And I'm sorry, Evan, but one balloon will not make a real elephant fly. And you shouldn't be touching the wild animals. Extra star for having non-white characters. ...more
Miss Sarah
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
A little boy and his mom walk through a zoo while the boy asks how many balloons it will take to make each animal fly. Mom ties the balloons to plastic animals figures while the boy ties them to real animals. Which type of animal will really fly?
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pros: characters of color, terrific illustrations, celebration of imagination, realistic depiction of phone-distracted parent
Cons: feels like the story line is missing something. I felt a disconnect between why one ballon--and the animals sailing away. One piece is missing.
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