Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Girl with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Girl with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Girl with the Red Balloon

(The Balloonmakers #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  5,211 ratings  ·  787 reviews
When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is u ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 2017 by AW Teen
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Girl with the Red Balloon, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Carol It tells a "complete" story in East Berlin but she does literally leave you hanging at the end. <spoiler> You have no idea whether Ellie makes it back…moreIt tells a "complete" story in East Berlin but she does literally leave you hanging at the end. <spoiler> You have no idea whether Ellie makes it back, alive to her own time and what happened while she was gone , whether she remembered what happened when she was in 1988 </spoiler> I might understand ( but not like or appreciate) if that was to get you to read the next book BUT THE SECOND BOOK IS NOT A SEQUEL so you never find out......(less)
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra ClareKing's Cage by Victoria AveyardCaraval by Stephanie GarberCarve the Mark by Veronica RothFlame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
YA Novels of 2017
1,103 books — 8,459 voters
Fantasy of Frost by Kelly St. ClareA Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade AlanFamous by Default by M.K. HarkinsFire in the Woods by Jennifer M. EatonEerie by C.M. McCoy
Fall YASH 2017
143 books — 106 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,211 ratings  ·  787 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Girl with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #1)
Candace Robinson
What a magical book! Love how everything comes full circle and connects! Plus time traveling intertwined with magic! And that ending!!! *Hyperventilates* Full review on my blog ...more
Katherine Locke
Apr 14, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote this thing. It'll be on your shelves and available September 1, 2017!

(edited on 6/22/17 because it still said spring lol)
Cam (justabookeater)
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A copy was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

"All the facts in history books couldn’t prepare someone for standing in a place where history was present tense".

It's going to be easier for me to just jot down what I loved about this book that try and elaborate an essay so here we go:

This book definitely falls on the heavier, darker side of YA. In a way, that makes it even more relevant and important to the times we ourselves are facing. The topics mention
I had only heard good things about this book and several people I trust couldn't stop gushing about it. Sadly I was disappointed.

l liked Ellie well enough. She was sort of bland and I struggled to connect to her. I didn't see any of the extraordinary, amazing, and brave traits that everyone else saw. Kai and Mitzi were both intriguing, but also sort of meh. There is a third POV and once I figured out who it was and how it tied together, I skipped most of those chapters because it didn't bring a
Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

09/27/17: This book is currently $1.99 for Kindle.

I adored this author's District Ballet Company series, so when I found out she was writing a book about magic realism and time travel about WWII, the Berlin Wall, and romance, the question wasn't so much, "Do I want this?" as "How badly do I want this, and when will the book be out?" The story itself seems to be paying homage to Nena's 99 Luftballons; there is no way that they aren't rel
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
This review originally appeared on Novel Ink.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book, you guys. THIS BOOK. I didn’t know what to expect going into The Girl with the Red Balloon. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and I’ve always been fascinated by the Berlin Wall and the division of Germany post-World War II. I went into this book expecting historical fiction set in East Berlin in the
I feel like someone broke my heart and I'm never going to be fine again.
(also this is my first 5 stars of the year, we're in March, so damn, final-fucking-ly)
Kate (beautifulbookland)
Guys, do yourselves a favour; either go and request this book on NetGalley, or take note of when it is released (or do both, like I am) because it is seriously one of the most beautiful, magical, heartbreaking stories I've read. It made me cry on numerous occasions.

This review is going to be all over the place because my emotions are all over the place. The ending is so perfect, but so sad and it just...gah. I'm crying again.

"What could change if we started to measure society's successes not in
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
"The Girl with the Red Balloon” is the first installment in Katherine Locke’s historical fiction, young adult “Balloonmakers” duology. It follows a girl named Ellie Baum who finds a floating red balloon during a class trip to Germany, which transports her back in time to 1988 in East Berlin, Germany.

Amidst the dangers of being in East Berlin, Ellie befriends a group of people referred to as “Runners.” The group helps others cross over the Berlin Wall to West Berlin with the use of magical red ba
“Most of the things we think are selfish aren’t at all. We’re just so conditioned to think that wanting things is wrong.”
― Katherine Locke, The Girl with the Red Balloon

I will be honest. I had a rough time with this book and took to skimming.

I thought it was going to be very very different then what it was.

I thought it was going to be lighter and/or more whimsical. I’m not a big fan of time travel books anyway although I have a few.

But I was very confused at the beginning of the book as I foun
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Four stars, maybe more.


It's the next day now (I finished this at 11 last night) and I'm still shocked by how much I enjoyed this book.

Do you like:
-Jewish main characters
-multiple points of view
-time travelling stories
-diversity (Jewish mc, Romani mc, queer mc)
-historical fiction
-learning more about the Holocaust and the Berlin Wall

Then you'll love this book. I most definitely did.

My very small quibbles:
-I wasn't a *huge* fan of the writing style. By the middle of the book, I was used to
Julie Zantopoulos
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to come
alice (arctic books)
Overall, I liked this one! I'm looking forward to Locke's future works.

I thought the time traveling aspect was incredibly fun, especially because I'm not a huge time-traveling person despite loving science-fiction. I liked the idea of the red balloon, serving as a way to save lives and as a huge symbol during this time period. I also enjoyed the shifting POVs between Benno, Kai, and Ellie, as I felt as if it gave me more development as to the impact of the red balloons and the time-traveling as
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
“If the story was happy, you’d care less about that tiny little bit of freedom . . . We wouldn’t like the daylight if it wasn’t for the night. We wouldn’t notice the stars if not for the endless dark of night. All the story, like you said? That’s the important part. The sad parts are all about surviving. We are a people that survives. We endure. We will endure this too.”

I’m torn about this book. Really and truly torn. On one hand, the subject matter, the concept, the ideas behind this book are f
Arielle ⭐ Cursebreaker ⭐
*Reposting because this beauty is actually out now. Do yourselves a favor and get you hands on it ASAP*

If you gave a girl a magic balloon, she’ll become something else.

OKAY. Can I just say that if this isn’t the best book I’ve read all year (I don’t think I can take that position away from ACOL) then it’s the one that’s left the biggest impact on me. And it still takes the cake as second best book. I requested this after having read ONE great review but still wasn’t fully prepared for what I was
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Please Note: I received an advance reader's copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

East Berlin in the 1980's was a seriously messed up society. One could look out their window and see the freedoms of the West, yet their city was on lock-down. Neighbors were rewarded for spying on each other, and the Stasi (secret police) bugged people's homes. I visited a country behind the Iron Curtain in the 80's, and it wa
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for approving my request for a free digital copy in exchange for a review.

The Girl with the Red Balloon is a welcome addition to YA literature, and it worthy of being in the same category as "The Book Thief" and "Shades of Grey." However, unlike the former, the Girl with the Red Balloon blends history and fantasy in order to tell a story that is indeed well-needed.

The book has three main characters, Ellie, Kai and Benno. I found most of the characters, wit
Kelly Brigid ♡
"No, I'm not often afraid. I have too many stories inside me to be afraid."

The Girl with the Red Balloon is a sweet and unique story that checked all the marks. It's not too remarkable, but the simple writing is engrossing and the forbidden romance is pleasant. Who doesn't devour stories with lovers from different time periods? Granted, this one could've progressed at a more natural pace and developed over a wider span of time, but it's still enjoyable. When Ellie first arrives in 19
Amy Leigh
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing! I love the way time travel worked with the rich emotional and historical journey the author takes you on. The world building was great and the author definitely did her research. The character building was done really well especially for the time period the book is set in. I felt like I was there to witness history. I highly recommend!

Jewish American high school student Ellie Baum has left Pittsburgh and arrived in Germany for a spring break trip with her German Language c
Shae McDaniel
My heart is full. This book ticks all the boxes in the list of "Things Shae Needs":

1) A time travel element that I could pretty much follow (pretty much, which is not damning with faint praise--there's only one time travel book I've solidly followed ever, so time travel books join the ranks of horseshoes and hand grenades here.)

2) Historical fiction that WORKS. This story actually taught me something about the era(s) it was set in, as the Cold War is a weird time that my brain slots as historica
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
The premise of this story was actually beautiful, it just lacked “something special”. The writing was a bit all over the place and was there really a need for the f bomb so many times? The romance too was typical.

However, though the magic in this book was a bit far stretched I did think it was a great concept; “a labor of love”, Locke says.
Heidi Heilig
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read and loved an early version of this magical devastation. Up, up and away!

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did.

The Girl with the Red Balloon seemed like it was going to be a book that left my mind blown. However, it didn't. I liked how it was unique and everything.. but honestly, nothing really struck out to me. Which kind of ended up disappointing the heck out of me.

Now I liked Ellie. She was so naïve and young. I loved it. She went to Germany, even thought her grandfather didn't want her to. It was for school, well her German Class, and since I have never be
Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of diversity in historical fiction + time traveling
*I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

In 1942, a boy escapes from Chelmno concentration camp holding onto a red balloon.

In 2017, the granddaughter of that boy grabs the string of a red balloon and is transported back to Berlin, Germany, 1988.

I'm not a big fan of time travel books in general, and I wasn't really impressed by The Girl With the Red Balloon's take on it in particular. I found the plot a little aimless and the twist a little obvious. That's
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
Galley provided by publisher

Rep: Jewish mc, Romani li, wlw side character

I loved this book. Everything about it was so so good, and it was really enjoyable, even if I did take longer to finish it than I might have (reading slumps come at the worst time).

The Girl with the Red Balloon tells the story of Ellie Baum, who is accidentally transported back in time to 1988 East Germany when she takes hold of a red balloon. She finds out there is a group of people who work to help those stuck in East Ger
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This one hit me so hard. What an emotional, utterly compelling book. Katherine Locke is an absolutely brilliant writer and a plot weaver like none other. Time travel stories always kind of leave me scratching my head, but not here. It's expertly crafted; I never felt disoriented. I'm still shook by all the threads (forwards, backwards, and sideways) in the timeline and the characters' relationships. This is the sort of book that makes you immediately flip back to the first chapter after you've f ...more
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Full disclaimer: I'm Katherine's critique partner and friend, so.
BUT. But. I read this book in its early stages and what a lush, beautiful, magical world Katie has created. There's so much to love in this book—the romance, the magic, the Jewish heroine and historical setting, Katie's prose—all of it is magical and wonderful, and you'd better be picking up this book when it comes out.
Ashley Poston
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This. Book.
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)

Moving and lovely and timely. I found the villain's reveal/reason to be a bit underwhelming and unexplained, which is the only reason this is not a full five-star book.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Me, a self-proclaimed history devourer & wannabe SPONGE (Red Balloon reference, anybody?), travelling to Berlin in her summer holidays, OF COURSE requested this on NetGalley - not really expecting too much... boy, was I was blown away (gettit, like a balloon is blown away? Looool)

- (fictional) first hand accounts of being a Jew in 1942 in Berlin, in Łódź ghetto AND in Chełmno concentration camp
-the majority of the book set in the DDR, East Berlin in
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Breath Too Late
  • Homes: A Refugee Story
  • A Dangerous Act of Kindness
  • My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies, #3)
  • The Forest of Ghosts and Bones
  • The Nature of Witches
  • Fragile: Why we are feeling more stressed, anxious and overwhelmed than ever (and what we can do about it)
  • Reverie
  • Try Easy (Aloha #1)
  • Esoterica
  • Eat Pray Shag (Laura the Explorer book 2)
  • Deceptions of Chenille (Chenille, #1)
  • I'm Not Dying with You Tonight
  • JAY THE GREAT (a modern retelling of The Great Gatsby)
  • Follow My Lead
  • The Flyaway Bride: JoJo Ellison
  • The ABCs of Black History
  • I Don't Date Superheroes
See similar books…
Katherine Locke lives and writes in a small town outside Philadelphia, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. She writes about that which she cannot do: ballet, magic, and time travel. She secretly believes all stories are fairytales in disguise. Her YA debut, THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON, arrives September 2017 from Albert Whitman & Comapny.

Other books in the series

The Balloonmakers (2 books)
  • The Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #2)

Related Articles

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 will be long remembered as a Dumpster fire of a year. But the nice thing about time is that it...
498 likes · 237 comments
“People never mentioned in history books still made history.” 7 likes
“Most of the things we think are selfish aren’t at all. We’re just so conditioned to think that wanting things is wrong.” 4 likes
More quotes…