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Book Review: James and the Birthday Balloon

James and the Birthday Balloon, written by Nicola J. Rowley, is a colourful children’s book aimed at children between the ages of 3 – 7. Lots of people worry about having to go to hospital, but this is an especially big worry during childhood. Just the other day Luke had a big accident at home and hit his head and his face – I mentioned that we might have to visit the hospital, which sent him into a fit of worry and anxiety. So, it’s a great idea to introduce the idea of hospital visits at an early change to help children understand they don’t need to be scared.

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That’s exactly what James and the Birthday Balloon aims to do.

James is really excited to go to his best friend, Ruby’s, birthday party. All the children have a great time at the party and as a special surprise for the birthday girl, the party entertainment is a balloon artist. The balloon artist makes two huge balloons for Ruby and her best friend James. The two children absolutely adore their balloons and run off to play with them. Unfortunately, Ruby accidentally lets go of the ribbon attached to her balloon and tries to chase it – this leads to her tripping over the roots of a big tree in her garden, causing he to land awkwardly on her leg.

James does his very best to cheer her up, but he can see that poor Ruby is in a lot of pain. She’s also really upset about losing her precious big red balloon. Ruby has to go to hospital and cries to James about how scared she is. Again, James tries to reassure her by explaining that he’s had to go to hospital before too and that there’s nothing to worry about. The paramedics and Ruby’s mum also try to reassure her that everything will be okay.

Having To Go To Hospital

At the hospital, Ruby’s mind is put to ease when she meets her doctor, who is very nice, and she realises that James, the paramedics and her mum were all right: there really wasn’t anything to worry about! The doctor fixes Ruby up and James comes to visit her during visiting hours. He has bought a lovely surprise for his best friend. James knows Ruby has had a tough day and that she only ended up hurting herself in the first place because she was chasing her red balloon, so he decides to give Ruby his big balloon. It’s a beautiful gesture and a true mark of James’ and Ruby’s friendship!

Our Thoughts On James and the Birthday Balloon

I’m a big fan of books that introduce ideas to our children that they may not have had to think about before. Children are often scared of visiting the hospital or the GP, so it’s nice to see a book that covers the topic and reinforces that hospitals and GP’s are nothing to be scared of.

Luke’s a huge fan of Dr Ranj on Cbeebies – he absolutely loves learning about what happens at the GP and how the body works. James and the Birthday Balloon includes a free audio book read by TV’s Dr Ranj himself, which is a lovely addition and adds to the message’s reinforcement.

Luke has enjoyed reading about James and Ruby over the last few weeks and I expect this will continue! It’s a nice five minute read, so it makes the perfect bed time story as it’s engaging but also not so long that Luke loses interest. James and the Birthday Balloon is an uplifting book that really makes you smile.


James and the Birthday Balloon is available in both Kindle and Paperback editions from Amazon. And what’s more: for every copy sold, £1 is going to raise vital funds to help support Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which provides care and life-saving treatment for children in south London and beyond.

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Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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