Reviews for The Balcony

by Melissa Castrillon

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Castrillón presents an almost-wordless story of a child uprooted by a family move from the countryside to the city and the growth in self, surroundings, and community that results. Lonely but hopeful, the protagonist tends seeds on the apartment balcony. Eventually, the neighborhood turns into an urban gardener's paradise, community members connect, and a flower shop opens downstairs. Circle motifs throughout support the themes of beginnings and endings, cycles and growth. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A child gardener makes a new place feel like home.The young protagonist, whose skin is the pale cream of the book's paper, enjoys the lush garden of their country home, serenely having tea with animal friends. Then a job change for their parents means goodbye. Saddened, they move to an apartment in the city, from which they gaze longingly at the distant country from their third-story balcony. They plant seeds in a pot, and, seemingly overnight, an asparagus-looking bloom sprouts. It grows steadily, eventually becoming even taller than the child's parents. With more plants, the balcony soon becomes an overflowing oasis of flora, attracting friendly animals, until the whole neighborhood is teeming with vegetation. The plants form connections among the community, including the protagonist's friendship with a next-door-neighbor child who has dark skin and wears their hair in braided knots. The occasional text provides some plot developments (a posted letter inviting the mother to take a job in the city) and conveys strong moods ("Hope" appears next to the child as they pot their initial plant). Digitally colored pencil illustrations are classically styled, with hatchings, strong lines, playful spatial distortions reminiscent of Wanda Gg, and a vintage-feeling tricolor palette. The organic elements have especially enchanting forms. Elegant drawings and sparse, emotive text make this story accessible to readers of a wide age range.A charmingly verdant tale in classic style. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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