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The Remember Balloons

4.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,733 ratings  ·  547 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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Average rating 4.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,733 ratings  ·  547 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 Reul
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.
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommended to LaDonna by: A. Weiss
Be prepared to shed a few tears with this one. Jessie Oliveros, along with the illustrations of Dana Wulfekotte, weaves a beautiful tale about growing older and the impact it can have on one's family. Not to give it all away, but, if you have not figured it out, balloons represent ones memories. You can just imagine what happens as you get older. The Remember Balloons chronicles the relationship between James and his Grandfather. Aging is not easy on anyone, especially one's immediate family ...more
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
La Coccinelle
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Well, there's a depressing picture book. Don't get me wrong: it's pretty good. It's just so sad.

Despite what the synopsis says, this isn't a book about simply getting a little forgetful as you age. Grandpa has full-blown, rip-roaring Alzheimer's, to the point where he loses all of his memories. The point at which he loses the silver balloon--representing a shared experience with his grandson--is gut-wrenching. However, there's a little bit of hope at the end, and about as much of a happy-ever-af
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
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
This emotional yet charming story is of a young boy and his grandfather's fading memories. ...more
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
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Picture books are near and dear to my heart. For several years I read them with my nephew who is autistic. We don't read and draw together anymore but when the perfect picture book comes along I feel a need to revisit those times with him. He identifies with children of color and he would have adored The Remember Balloons!!

I loved right off how beautiful Dana Wulfekotte's art was and applaud the diversity found in the story. The gorgeous tonal
Brindi Michele
Okay, I'm bawling. What a sweet, sweet way to explain this tough issue to a child. <3 ...more
Alex  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
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.
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
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully done.
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
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
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Children’s books oftentimes have the most hard hitting stories. The Remember Balloons is no exception. James and his grandpa’s story is beautiful and sad at the same time.

I love this story because it encourages the reader to think about their personal experiences while reading the story of someone else. It also teaches the reader empathy and brings up the conversation of dementia/Alzheimer’s/how old age affects different people.

Dana Wulfekotte’s illustrations are the perfect pairing for Jessie O
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. ...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. ...more
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.
Megan Johnson
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wouldn't normally put this book on my read shelf. But this story touched me on a level I couldn't ever imagine. This book was so beautiful and explained Alzheimer and Dementia in a way that was just amazing. Thank you Jessie Oliveros for writing this amazing book. If you ever run into this situation with a loved on and you need to explain it to a child I would 100% recommend this book. ...more
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 ...more
Beka Powers
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Genre: Challenges/Issues- Family Situations
Awards: Schneider Family Book Award
Audience: Ages 5-9

Summary: A young boy watches his grandfather lose his balloons, or memories, and has a hard time processing and understanding what is going on. His feelings are hurt, but he learns to have patience and realizes how important sharing stories with family is.

a. The main character, a young boy named James, is struggling with his grandfather losing his balloons, or memories.

b. This would be an excellent
Marianna F.
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
James is a young boy that is so curious about his grandpa and the fact he’s the one that carries the most and best balloons. But one day, grandpa’s balloons begin to float away and there’s nothing James can do to catch them, regardless of how hard he tries. Based upon experiences with her own Grandpa, Oliveros gives us a story that takes us through what Alzheimer’s looks like to a child through the metaphor of balloons. Telling the story in a metaphoric way gives it an almost protective layer, w ...more
Sharon Coffey
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book gave me chill bumps when I read it and that doesn’t happen often. The text is sparse but speaks volumes. It’s as warm and heart touching as it is heart wrenching. The warmth comes in the form of life’s wonderful memories that we carry with us. In this story it’s in the form of balloons. And Grandpa has more balloons than James and the rest of his family added together. James enjoys hearing Grandpa share all his awesome memories.

The heart wrenching part enters when Grandpa starts losin
Laura La Rosa
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inclusion- A Schneider Family Book Award Honor book, The Remember Balloons is a sweet and poignant story about a grandfather with Alzheimers. Told from the perspective of his grandson, the story explains the balloons each of us carry and the memories contained within in the balloons. The story then explains how the "grandfather" loses his balloons and eventually forgets even his balloon memories he shares with his grandson. The parents of the narrator explain that the boy just needs to take the ...more
Carly Campbell
This is a beautifully written, but sad story. Grandpa has the best memories so he has the best balloons. I like how the balloons indicated and were a metaphor for memory loss. I like how it is explained this way for children because it is easier to understand. I like how the pictures are illustrated as well. The balloons are all so colorful because they are mainly happy memories, but there are also tones of gray in the story which show the sadness of the memory loss in his grandpa. It is happy h ...more
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Jessie grew up watching Kansas sunsets, and she’ll always have wild sunflowers and gold-tipped cornfields 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 find ...more

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