PPBF: The Remember Balloons

Happy return to PPBF: today I'm remembering.

I'm remembering this moment on August 25, when I was SO excited that my Spanish class was running itself on Day 6 of school. I remember reaching into my drawer to get my phone camera to capture that magical moment, a moment that would forever be frozen in my mind, that moment when I saw a text from my brother Paul that nobody ever wants to see: 
Call me ASAP.

That was the moment I would find out that our younger brother Mark had passed away unexpectedly and peacefully in his sleep. That was a moment that time stood still. Writing his obituary would be the hardest assignment I'd ever been given. It has been a crushing two weeks, a season of sorrow that I'll soon write more about and made easier bit by bit by the outpouring of calls, texts, visits, stories and love.

For today, know that we are grieving hard as we work to keep the legacy of connection and love that our brother left for and in us. Here's our last sibling picture, in front of one of the billboards that his work family sprinkled all over the skies of Milwaukee in his honor. And though he was pretty humble, I am confident that he would have loved that gift; he would consider the competitor running the boards on the day of his funeral a big win. And oh how he loved to win!

So just like PPBF was on break, I've been on a break, too,
but I'm back and delighted to share today's PPBF pick with you.

Title: The Remember Balloons
Author: Jessie Oliveros
Illustrator: Dana Wulfekotte
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Birthday: August 28, 2018
Suitable for ages: 5-9
Themes: family illness, legacy, memories
Brief synopsis: Grandpa and James share a lot of balloons in a beautiful bouquet that hold their memories, but when Grandpa's memory starts to fade, whatever with James do?
Opening page: I have lots and lots of balloons, way more than my little brother.

Resources: Listen to a read-aloud {here}.
Read a Publishers Weekly review {here}.
Visit {here} for some engaging follow-up activities.

Why I like this book: We received a copy of this book with a condolence card and some wind chimes in memory of my brother Mark. It was really hard to read knowing that my brother will forever be 53 and won't get to age. So at first, I wasn't even sure I liked the book or that it even connects right now. But after reading it again, it hit me: Mipps (Mark's nickname) had the biggest balloon bouquet of anyone I knew even though he didn't have as much time to collect them as the Grandfather in the story.  We received family and friends for five hours last Friday, some 500 people. It. Was. Unbelievable. Every one of those friends had a Mipps balloon in their hand and heart. Each one of them looked like they'd just lost their balloon. But truly, those balloons are still with us, even if we've had to let them go and watch them float up toward the heavens. Such a powerful metaphor for the love and memories that our hearts hold complete with all of the emotions, the happy and sad, the comfortable and uncomfortable, the easy and the hard. Lord knows my feelings have been all over the place since that sad, hard moment.

Check out this book; I think you'll find it an empowering resource for anyone in grief and loss whether it's from illness, aging, or a sudden departure from a heart attack, like what happened with Mark.

Head now to Susanna Hill's blog for today's other titles;
I'm so grateful that our Mr. Quigley's Keys in in the mix. 


  1. I am so sorry for your loss, Barbara. You and Mipps sound so similar in your love for connecting others and making everyone around you feel special. Both servant hearts for sure. I am grateful that you got to see and hear from so many people that your brother was treasured so deeply beyond your family. Take care ❤️

  2. I so sorry for your loss Barbara. This book is the perfect story to share and will heal the hearts of many dealing with loss. Sending my love!

  3. What a perfect book for remembering your brother. Thank you for sharing your story and the Remember Balloons.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!