Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Ella and the Balloons in the Sky

Appleby, Danny (Author)
Pirie, Lauren (Illustrator)
Tundra Books 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781770495289 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

figurative language

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

One morning Ella wakes up to find all her pets have gone: the doghouse is empty, the birdcage is only bars, the water stands empty in the fish tank, and in place of her cat, a mouse roams free. A metaphor for loss and grief; the animals have floated up to the sky, balloons tied to their midriffs. This poignant, sensitively told tale follows Ella as she desperately attempts to bring her favourite animals back down to earth.

Simple pencil lines and pastel tones perfectly capture the animals’ flight between earth and sky. Sepia-toned paper complements pensive black scribbles and occasional subdued colours. Subtle splotches on each page suggest tear stains.

Written in rhyming verse using language that is clear and direct, we feel Ella’s plight as she implores her animal friends to “come down and stay!” “But they rose/higher and higher/and farther away.”

Ella finally finds comfort through her own feelings and acceptance of letting go. Heartfelt and sincere, the difficult subject matter of loss and grief is handled with thoughtfulness and grace.

  •  

    Discuss the emotions associated with the loss of a pet. What can you do to start feeling better?

  •  

    Explain why the illustrator chose to use pale colours and line drawings. Make your own illustration for one of the pages. Explain your choice of colours, content and style.

  •  

    Make a card or write a letter to Ella to help her feel better. How else can you support a friend who’s feeling sad?

  •  

    Discuss reasons for losing a pet (death, runaway, etc.). Discuss the sadness you (or the owners) might feel and what you can do to feel better.

  •  

    Review vocabulary for the rooms of the house. Cut out a pet picture and hide it somewhere in the house. Ask a partner to find it using yes/no questions such as “Is the cat in the kitchen?’’ To increase the challenge, be more specific and ask questions such as: “Is the cat under the table in the living room?’’

  •  

    Draw four or five panels, in black and white comic strip fashion, to describe how you would deal with the loss of a pet. Enhance your story with captions and/or speech bubbles.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Drama
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Visual Arts