I can honestly say that’s not a sentence I ever thought I’d write! Until I received a review copy of Billy and the Balloons by Elizabeth Dale.
I confess I was a little worried that the title and cover might give away too much, but there is just so much fun and magic in this book, that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Think Peter Pan meets The Snowman and you’re on the right lines.
The “up up and away” fold out page was a complete surprise. I’d actually love a poster of this page for my Christmas decorations.
I also have to sing the praises of illustrator Patrick Corrigan. Not only are the colours are absolutely divine – rich and warm – but the illustrations manage to find that perfect blend of nostalgic and fresh.
PS – pass the mince pies – unlike Santa, I’m not planning to climb down any chimneys!
Fly up, up, and away with Billy! When the wind takes Billy and his colorful balloons on a ride in the sky, he ends up having the most magical Christmas ever.
A small boy + a big bunch of balloons = magic! Billy’s dad has a special touch with balloons, turning them into every imaginable shape and creature. But one Christmas Eve, the wind whips up and tiny Billy finds himself and his father’s balloons floating away through the clouds. Lots of friends, both human and animal, scurry to the rescue–but instead of bringing Billy down to earth, one by one they end up coming along for the ride. Will Billy succeed in landing safely . . . and help Santa and his tired reindeer deliver their presents too?
I began writing magazine fiction and have sold thousands of stories all over the world, but when my daughters were born and I started reading to them, I was reminded just how wonderful children’s books are, and decided to try writing them myself. They are the most fun of all and I have had over eighty books published from picture books up to novels for up to age 12.
Some of them deal with issues I have faced with my own children such as a pet dying – Scrumpy (Andersen) or an over-adventurous hamster – Hammy (Orchard), others cover issues common to many children, such as being scared of monsters – Nothing Can Frighten a Bear (Nosy Crow), being different – Delightfully Different Dilly (Quarto 2021) and being small – Billy and the Balloons (Salariya) and Off to Market! (Frances Lincoln -a runner-up in the Dundee Picture Book Award and based on my journey on an over-crowded minibus in Uganda filled with villagers, furniture and animals!
I have also written a couple of interactive picture books where the reader has to be a hero and pull faces, shout, stamp and twist and turn the book to help save a child from impending disaster – Chase Those Witches!(Salariya) and Save The Day for Ada May (Willow Tree Books.) The latter has won two Awards and been short-listed for a third. Of course there is always room for books which are just pure fun, whether they’re rhyming – Mix Up Monday (Maverick) coming in 2021 or non-rhyming – When Betsy Came To Babysit (Tamarind, read on the Cbeebies Bedtime Hour).
I have recently moved into writing Non-Fiction picture books – Trailblazer (Maverick) is the story of Lily Parr and her battle to play Woman’s Football in the early 20th Century.
As well as my picture books I have written a lot of Early Reader texts – fun stories that help young readers develop their reading skills – for Franklin Watts and Maverick Books as well as Junior Fiction for Egmont.
Patrick Corrigan worked as an art director at a design studio before becoming an illustrator of educational and picture books for children. He illustrated Save the Day for Ada May!, which won the picture book category in the 2019 Northern Lights Book Awards.