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The Remember Balloons

4.68  ·  Rating details ·  957 ratings  ·  331 reviews
James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.

But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
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4.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  957 ratings  ·  331 reviews

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Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those searching for books that help explain dementia to kids
Recommended to Tatiana by: Yalsa awards
Such a gentle, loving book that explains memory loss via a simple, but vivid metaphor. My kid was concerned why the dog had only one balloon though. To think of it, I am bothered a little by this too...
Sarah Lynne
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kidlit-favorites
Well, this one made me cry uncontrollably, but it was totally worth it. The concept of memories and stories being shared between people, and the ache of not being able to hold on to them as they slip away… so beautifully rendered in this book, between the comfortably flowing words and the illustrations in tones of grey, highlighted with the transparent colors of the balloons. One of my favorites for 2018.
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a beautiful book. The story is poignant yet simple. The use of balloons makes it easy for children to understand the loss of memory in an older relative. The images, with the spare use of color, really complements the story of the book. I want to look at the pictures again and again and reread the words. My 4-year-old seemed mesmerized too as I read it to him. The Remember Balloons is certainly a memorable book and one to cherish.
I really have enjoyed the metaphorical and colourful balloons that author Jessie Oliveros uses in her The Remember Balloons to indicate and describe memories (and how James' grandfather, not only has the largest number but also the most colourful balloons in the family and is therefore also the main teller of tales, passing his balloons, passing his memories onto others, until Grandpa starts having issues with his balloons, with his memories, and to the point that one day, he has no more balloon ...more
Beth Anderson
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This tender story about an aging grandparent experiencing memory loss makes a very difficult time of life comprehensible for a child. Memories, just like the balloons used to represent them, are shared and sometimes slip away. The story doesn’t skip over the frustration or anger or sadness that comes with memory loss, but lets the reader move through these emotions until finally finding the joy held in shared memories and the responsibility of transferring them to others along the way. It’s a be ...more
This emotional yet charming story is of a young boy and his grandfather's fading memories.
Jillian Heise
Having had to watch as my grandmother suffered through Alzheimers for years and ultimately passed away last year, this one hit me hard. I'll likely have to read it many more times myself before I can read it aloud to a group of kids. But this book is a beautiful way to represent the power of shared memories with loved ones, and what is lost as that awful disease progresses. This is a must-have in any classroom/library, especially important to be pulled out and shared when any kids are going thro ...more
Lydia Wednesday
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: grades k-3
This was really good, but also really sad. I cried in my office. The ending helped but man did it sucker punch me with feelings. The book is about Alzheimers and how that affects the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. I appreciate that the family in the book is multi-racial.

I would recommend this for k-3, but that you should read the book with them and help them process their feelings after. Especially if you have a particularly sensitive child.
First sentence: I have lots and lots of balloons, way more than my little brother. "This one's my favorite," I tell him, pointing to the balloon filled with my last birthday party. When I look at it, I can see the pony again. I can still taste the chocolate frosting.

Premise/plot: The balloons in the story symbolize a person's memories. James, our narrator, has many balloons though not as many as his parents and his grandpa. But that changes over the course of the book. His grandpa loses all of h
Beautifully done.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful book about our memories, aging, and multigenerational relationships.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family, feelings
Such a fabulous book!! Would be brilliant to use to explain dementia to children
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A tender way to help children deal with grandparent's and great-grandparent's aging and memory loss. Beautiful
Brindi Michele
Okay, I'm bawling. What a sweet, sweet way to explain this tough issue to a child. <3
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This really is an exquisite book, so tender, so heart-wrenching and so very sad. It covers the difficult topics of older generations losing their memories and how children deal with this. In this case through all having their own memory filled balloons, the older you are the more balloon memories you've accumulated and what happens as you start to forget your memories and lose your balloons. A difficult read but highly recommended picture book.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Using balloons to a metaphor for memories, young James tells readers he only has a few balloons, unlike his grandpa who has more balloons than James, his little brother, and his parents put together. grandpa has lived a long full life, and James loves hearing about the memories in his balloons. For memories that they share, they each have the same color balloon, like the time they went fishing together. Then, one day, grandpa starts having a problem with his balloons. One would get stuck and he ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pbf-general
This is a tender, sweet story about a young biracial child who tries to help his Grandpa remember important events in his life with imaginary balloons. Although not specified, the grandfather is probably suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The illustrations in pencil, colored pencil, ink and gouache are interesting--most of the illustrations are black, white and grey, except for the brightly colored balloons that hold those important memories.
Jessie Oliveros does a terrific job of telling about Alzheimer's Disease in an easy-to-understand way for young readers. She uses the analogy of balloons as memories and at first the boy telling the story shares he has way more "balloons" than his little brother. His favorite is the one filled with his last birthday party. His mom and dad have more than he does, but his grandpa has more than all of them together, with marvelous stories. As the story moves along, Grandpa sometimes tells about one ...more
Becky B
A little boy who loves the balloons of memories that he and his family carry, especially the ones his grandfather shares with him, is distraught when his grandfather starts losing his balloons.

This is an extended metaphor that works really well to explain to a child how memories slip away from the elderly. It doesn't limit the issue to Alzheimers or any other disease. It manages to convey how hard it is when people special to you start to lose their memories, but it ends hopefully, as the little
Marathon County Public Library

James is a little boy whose memories are represented by balloons, as are Grandpa's memories.  James loves talking to Grandpa and sharing balloons.  But one day, Grandpa doesn't have as many balloons, and his favorite balloon, the silver balloon is floating above his head.  James questions why the balloons are floating away.  This is such an amazing story to explain Alzheimer's Disease to children.

Audrey K. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Jessie's family, memories are kept in colorful balloons. But when Grandpa becomes ill and begins losing his balloons, it's Jessie's turn to carry and share the lost memories.

Beautiful, moving, and finely-crafted, this book perfectly distills the complexity of Alzheimer's into a story that young children can understand.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea what to expect when I started to read this book. It quickly becomes clear what the "Remember Balloons" are and what they represent.

This is a beautiful book. With some picture books, you can feel the lightheartedness. With this book, there is a pervasive pulling at the heart.

Beautifully handled book about memory.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, gentle, colorful picture book about a boy's times with his grandfather. The use of balloons of different colors to represent memories works smoothly and effectively as a way to show the grandfather's loss of memories due to dementia.

An excellent book to help preschoolers and early elementary kids learn about and understand dementia in a loved one.
Lisa Mcbroom
I loved how Jessie Oliveros used the balloons as metaphors for memory. Each family member has a set of balloons in beautiful colors which represent memories. When Grandpa loses his balloons, his grandson James shares his with his grandfather.
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A gentle, yet poignant read about the issue of memory loss. The young boy and his grandfather tell and share their memories with one another. The boy notices that his grandfather is losing more of his remember balloons as the days pass them both by. His parents show him a way to keep the memories alive.
Alli Smith
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The illustrations in this book are so beautiful and so powerful. They are an important part of this book. A very emotional book but, good for students who can relate to the topic. It is good to have a discussion about this book and discuss what it means because there is a deep meaning to it.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a fantastic picture book! A great way to talk about family, memories, etc.
A great way to help kids understand things like Alzheimers. Plus, the characters are POC!
Absolutely love it!
Janna Odenthal
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How can I want to cry while peacefully smiling at the same time? By reading this book again and again. Incredible! Wish I could thank the authors personally for writing this.
Mrs. Krajewski
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We connected with this one quite a bit. Tears all around by the end. ❤ ...more
Michele Knott
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and illustrated. Grateful for this book.
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Jessie grew up watching Kansas sunsets, and she’ll always have wild sunflowers and gold-tipped corn fields in her heart. She spent her college-life climbing mountains in Utah and striving for higher vistas. After a fulfilling career as a registered nurse, Jessie hung up her stethoscope to grow children and stories. She loves root beer floats, autumn, and running in the rain. These days you can fin ...more