Monday, 23 August 2010

The Magic Balloon - a book review

I was thrilled to be sent two lovely children's books from Top That Publishing recently. The first I shall review is a book called 'The Magic Balloon' by Oakley Graham and illustrated by Dan Crisp. 

When I opened the parcel, the book was upside down and the first thing I noticed about this hardback book was the telltale plastic cover with minuscule little screw which hide secret little batteries - usually to power really irritating electronic tunes.
I offered up a little prayer when I turned it over and saw that far from being a musical book, this actually had a 'magic' colour-changing light (hooray, nice and quiet!)

My daughter is 2 and a half. She loves books and she especially loves books with gimmicks or gizmos so this one was seized from the parcel.

The balloon illuminates when you open the page, and glows rather serenely, changing colour from red to green, blue, yellow, white then pink. It turns off automatically once the book has been left shut for a few minutes (although Ruby hasn't quite grasped this yet, and keeps flinging open the pages exclaiming "its still on Mummy!")

The book tells of Will, and little boy and inventor who develops the world's first magical balloon. It is fashioned from smelly socks and pants (these words always get a laugh from Ruby), and he sets off on his adventure to see the world. As we turn the pages, we're whisked to far-off lands and glimpse other countries and cultures.

The book is recommended for children aged 3 and over. Some of the language is a little advanced for my daughter, but the story is told in rhyme and she loves the sing-song rhythm of poems even if she doesn't fully understand all the words! It did give lots of opportunity for further discussion, explaining about other countries and where certain animals come from, so I see this as a positive.

The only negative point I would raise is the Americanisms (or should I say Canadianisms). The story begins in Montreal where Will lives, and I noticed use of the word 'vacation' which needed explaining to a British toddler.  It can't be substituted as it would spoil the rhyme. Equally, use of the word 'frock' rather than 'dress' is for poetic purposes, and perhaps not thought out fully for the readership.

On the whole, we really liked this book. The detailed illustrations by Dan Crisp provide lots of material for talking around the story, and resulted in lots of discussion - Ruby particularly liked the first page showing Will's workshop and all the different tools.

This is also a great book to read at bedtime. The softly glowing light sets a nice ambiance, and the gentle sing-song of the story is perfect for winding down time.

The book costs £8.09 from

I shall be reviewing my second book from Top That Publishing soon, so please check back again.

This product was provided to me free of charge for the purpose of reviewing.


  1. Great review! The book looks fab, my daughter also likes gimmicky books so would love that one :)

  2. Those books look lovely! I hate books with 'noises' too. Drive me potty! (speaking of which....wanders off muttering about potty training yet again)

  3. Love these books. Very clever!