Mummy's Munchkins

Family Life Our Way

Book Review: James and the Birthday Balloon.

April 5, 2018
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Our first book review...

One thing I love about children is their innocent honesty so who better to ask to review a children's book than the children themselves?! And my children were certainly not backwards in coming forwards when I asked their opinion of James and the Birthday Balloon!

The faces are too creepy! I like pictures that look like they have been drawn.

I shared this book with my four children (10, 7, 5, 4). I understand that Nicola J Rowley, the author, aimed to target this book at ages 3 - 7 years and I have to say she is spot on. My 10 year old son showed very little interest while the others were positively engaged once we'd got started.

Initial Thoughts

When I first received the book my initial thought was it looks a bit like a school reading book and I have to say this look doesn't make it very inviting, but that is only our opinion. It was because of this that my children weren't keen to sit down and read it, but as the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover, so I was excited to give it a chance.

My daughter, 7, criticized the front cover and the pictures saying the children's faces were too creepy and she prefers illustrations that look hand drawn as opposed to computer images.

I initially read this to my younger daughter, 4, and the reaction was good. She loves a story and this was no exception. She stayed focussed throughout even though there was plenty of background noise from her siblings.  I later shared it with all four of my children as a bedtime read.

The Story

James and the Birthday Balloon is a well written, lovely, uplifting story

James and the Birthday Balloon is a well written, lovely, uplifting story about the friendship between James and Ruby, and how one small act of kindness can make the world of good. When Ruby hurts herself James is there to help and he does his upmost to try and make her smile.

It is Ruby's birthday and James is her best friend.

At Ruby's birthday party a 'balloon man' blows up and gives both James and Ruby a balloon each. My children were not happy with this! They thought it mighty unfair that the other party guests missed out. Seeing as it was Ruby's birthday they believed that Ruby should have been the only one to receive a balloon OR that all the children should have been given one. James receiving a balloon simply as a best friend right didn't sit well with them!

They do say children are the best critics!!

Sadly Ruby has an accident and ends up in hospital, which in itself sounds rather traumatic for a child's story but it is how James tries to reassure her and what he does when he visits Ruby that makes this story a touching one. I won't of course, give the ending away but I will say the moral of story is a beautiful positive message that is picked up on by both adults and children.

Special Feature

The book came with a special feature - a free audio, read by TV's Dr Ranj. All you have to do is scan the QR code on your phone.

I use the term 'all' lightly.

I am not the most technically savvy person and I struggled with this. It involved downloading a QR code scanning app, which on the face of it doesn't seem complicated, until it didn't work properly! I downloaded one that had tonnes of reviews assuming it would be the best. Ha! We all know what assuming does... makes an ass out of you and me! Anyway all was going fine until I scanned the code, was taken to a website and then had to download another app called Dropbox. I was starting to get out of my depth! It then wanted me to sign in/up but I wasn't sure what exactly I was signing up for so I swiped up to close the apps and tried again.

I downloaded a second QR scanner called QR Reader and was taken to a link via Dropbox (I think!) and ta-da Dr Ranj's voice started reading the story to us.

Now I have it set up, this little extra is absolutely brilliant and the children also approved of the audio book.

To those who are a little more technically savvy I'm sure this won't be quite the task it was for me!

To Conclude

Overall, this book is a pleasant and enjoyable read. The audience experiences highs and lows with James and Ruby which is followed by a touching message at the end. And the audio feature, once I could fathom it out, is great. Definitely worth a read.


The author, Nicola J Rowley, has gone the extra mile with book as it supports the Evelina London Children's Hospital with every sale that is made.

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.

To purchase your copy you can do so here on amazon! Paperback and Kindle versions are available.

If you have read this book we would love to hear what you thought as well. You can let us know by commenting below, or heading over to our Facebook page or Instagram and use the hashtag #JamesAndTheBirthdayBalloon

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