The Big Wet Balloon
Written and illustrated by: Ricardo Liniers
Publisher: TOON Books
Format: Hardcover, 6 x 9, 32 pages, Full Color, $12.95
Whenever I fly I like to sleep. I can sleep anywhere, actually. When I flew to this year's San Diego Comic Con a few weeks ago I had one too many writing deadlines looming over my travel plans. Sleep would have to wait. And I wasn’t really happy about it.
My mood changed, however, as soon as I opened TOON Books' new early reader comic book The Big Wet Balloon. From the first page I knew it was one of the best TOON Books to date. The illustrations, the storyline, and the overall endearing quality of the characters put my much-wanted nap far from my mind. I had something extraordinarily special to read, a new early reader comic book that is most likely – in my opinion – going to garner acclaim from librarians, teachers, parents, and it's very valued young readers.
One of the most fascinating aspects of reading any TOON Book is the brilliance behind the craft and structure of these early reader comics. In The Big Wet Balloon, for instance, Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman have teamed up with an extraordinary and master-craftsmen of early reader comics. Liniers' The Big Wet Balloon subtly constructs an endearing tale all readers will want to follow and learn from. The story centers on two sisters who wake up to a day of the week most of us – especially kids – treasure: a Saturday! Excited and full of plans for the day the two girls bounce out of bed, eat their breakfast and prepare for their grand and playful Saturday. To their surprise, though, they find their plan doused by a pretty heavy rainstorm.
The heavy rain and bummer weather can't stop these two sisters, however. The two girls will not only enjoy their day, but also find unique ways to appreciate their surprisingly rainy Saturday.
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: Two sisters wake up one Saturday morning full of excitement for a full day of play and fun. But the weather has other ideas, and the girls must adapt their plans to fit the weather's attempt to douse their fun.
Setting: Inside the house and outside the house
Major Characters: Clemmie, the older sister, Sanchez, the weather itself
Themes: Problem-solving, thinking outside the box, friendship and family, planning and revising
Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: Otto's Orange Day by Jay Lynch and Frank Cammuso, Squish by Jenni Holm and Matt Holm, The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein, How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? by Jane Yolen, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst & Ray Cruz
Some Teaching Recommendations
For Elementary Early Readers*
Craft and Structure
6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
*Aligned to the Common Core Standards (www.corestandards.org).
Lesson Idea for Early or Elementary School Readers
In order to assess comprehension of this Toon Book it is key to ask students what happened on the particular Saturday at the center of the plot.
In the box below either draw and/or write about what happens in the story, The Big Wet Balloon.
Pretend you are the writer of this book, and you are asked to write another story about the girls' fun-filled plans for next Saturday. What do they plan on doing for their next Saturday? How does the weather contribute to or change their plans in your story?
Use words or images to tell your story in the box below.
Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.