Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book 277: The Red Balloon

The Red Balloon, by Albert Lamorisse, Doubleday 1978 (from a 1956 film).

I vaguely remember a short, non-verbal, film called the "Red Balloon". The balloon in the film seemed playful and not quite as mischievous as the balloon in the book. 

In this case, the film came first, and the film is better. I thought maybe some of the charm was lost in the translation, so I picked up a copy of Le Ballon Rouge as well. It is pretty straight-forward reading so even my rusty French could (mostly) keep up. Some of the charm was lost in the translation, but even in French, the book was not as good as the movie. 

I had problems with the book saying Pascal was lonely because he was an only child -- my son in an only child and not lonely; I was one of four and was lonely. I had a hard time with the balloon in the book being so mischievous, even malicious, at times -- those traits sucked out a lot of the fun and playfulness of the red balloon. The principal, or director, was just plain mean in the book; and the bullying kids' motives were more ambiguous in the film. 

This book would have been better without the text, French or English, and if it just relied on the photos to tell the story. 

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