With its whimsical, magical artworks, and its metaphorical story line about the journey of a big, shimmering balloon, Lily’s Balloon is set to touch the hearts of children and grownups alike.
It’s the latest book by children’s author (and fellow radio presenter from Hope Media) Katrina Roe, telling the story of a little girl who loses her balloon at a fair, and the other children who gain joy from the balloon as it travels on the wind.
Katrina said the story began as one exploring the way we are all interconnected, but it grew into much more.
“Each person has a reason to be caught up in their moment but when they look up, they see something bigger than themselves.”
“The first idea that came to me was one of something travelling through different peoples’ lives,” Katrina said. “That could have been a message in a bottle, or a book passed from person to person. But I liked the idea of the balloon because it kind of drifts through your life, and you don’t necessarily have to own it, to be touched by it.
“Then it morphed into a story that for me was about loss, and about when we miss out on things that we want—and the idea that often our loss is someone else’s gain, but we don’t always see it because we’re so caught up in ourselves.”
For children, Katrina hopes the book might help them have a new perspective about the things they miss out on. For adults reading along, it might also speak to them about things such as a lost love.
“There’s so many ways in which our loss is often someone else’s gain and I wanted to show that in a very gentle way,” Katrina explained.
The story brewed in Katrina’s mind for several years, but the actual writing took place after a personal crisis in her family. However she expects the balloon will have different meanings for different readers; for her illustrator the balloon was a symbol of hope.
It’s also a lesson about how our pain and disappointment can diminish when we look beyond ourselves.
“Each person has a reason to be caught up in their moment but when they look up, they see something bigger than themselves,” Katrina said. “For example Lily loses her balloon and is really devastated, but her mum puts her arm around her and says ‘look at it now, Lily, soaring to the clouds, dancing on the wind’, and Lily starts to see the beauty… and thinks, ‘I wonder where the balloon’s going to end up’. And that’s a comfort.
“And I feel like when we can take our eyes off ourselves and think beyond, we can see the bigger picture.”
Lily’s Balloon is also an intentionally inclusive book, with hints at themes like split families, children with disabilities, and mixed ethnicities.
Lily’s Balloon is available through good bookstores online, and is being launched at two child-friendly events, in Brisbane on August 11 (12pm to 3pm at The Mad Hatters Bookshop in Manly, Queensland), and at Boronia Park in Sydney on September 1. For more details or to attend, head to Katrina’s author page on Facebook.