A young fan reads “Too Many Frogs” while waiting for his food to arrive at Deb’s Diner in Waldoboro, Maine.
Ben had a balloon,” begins the spare text, accompanied by a picture rendered in cut paper and ink showing Ben holding a red balloon aloft. The next spread shows only the lower portion of Ben’s body at the top of the page as his sister, standing on the ground below him, says, “Bye, Ben.” Ensuing pages show Ben soaring higher and higher up into the sky as first a window, then bees, a tree, a kite, a big hill, rain and a rainbow all call out, “Come back, Ben.” The repetitive text will reinforce new readers’ engagement, while Ben’s consistent smile (a simple, small u shape) provides reassurance that he is untroubled by his ascent into the sky—even when he reaches a smiling moon who says, “Hi, Ben.” Ben collects moon rocks in his pockets, and their weight triggers his descent back to Earth, past all of the things that called to him as he rose up to the heavens. When he returns to his home, art on the penultimate spread shows Ben waving from his window, “Bye, balloon,” he calls, but the balloon is absent from the page. A supremely satisfying page-turn shows Ben’s sister sailing upward while holding onto the balloon’s string. “Bye, Ben,” she calls.