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CREATING BALLOON

Billy Squeezes and Tosses the BalloonBilly Loses the Balloon

ABOUT THE IDEA

I gave myself a form within which to write Balloon - sometimes it's good to have restrictions to work inside. I decided:
1 - Although it was about a balloon I would never mention the word balloon - except in the title.
2 - Each new sentence would be a new verb applied to the balloon.
3 - These sentences would rhyme and fit together to make a story.

This has produced a book which is good for teaching reading because:
1 - It is repeticious
2 - It introduces new verbs as well as nouns (the characters doing the action) simply
3 - All this learning hopefully happens while the child is enjoying the story.

In other words if the child learns from the book, it is a by-product of them enjoying the story - the story pulls them onwards through all those words - if it didn't, they wouldn't be bothered to go forward. It's like a distraction technique.

When I realised the book was for a younger age group I wanted to make the type size as large as possible to give it a younger feel. This changes the look of the book. Obviously the rhythm is very important in this book - pulling you forwards, it mirrors the chase. My aim with the writing was that the rhyme, rhythm and pacing of the story would pull the reader through the book, just as the picture of the balloon floating through the pages led them on visually. On the journey - incidental to the fun of the chase - they would encounter all these lovely 'doing' words.

ABOUT THE PICTURES

A book like this is all about pacing - and the pacing of the words and story is reflected in the design. The sequence of the balloon being returned to Billy by the wind could have taken up many more pages, but at this stage in the book it needed to happen quite quickly so I used one page with four panels (one each for the wind, the cow, the duck and the dog) and then one big panel for the moment the balloon is seen again by Billy and his Mum (it’s an important moment in the story so it demands more space, although in the finished book it went on one page, whereas in this early rough I’d given it a whole spread).

Balloon Thumbnail

Duck RoughThe illustrations are drawn in a crayon line (this gives a soft feel to the images) and then coloured in with marker pens. These come in a wide choice of colours so you have to be very specific which ones you choose. I end up with sketches like this on which I scribble the number of the pen so when I do the final artwork I know what I’m doing. On the duck’s breast I have written a note saying ’blend this,’ It refers to a technique in which you use some neutral ink fluid to blend the colour so the edge becomes soft or blurred.