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Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm

by Jerdine Nolen

Other authors: Mark Buehner (Illustrator)

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A child ventures out in the middle of the night to see how Harvey Potter grows his wonderful balloons.

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Balloons don’t grow in a farm! Or do they? Harvey Potter’s farm is like no other, his crop is a bunch of balloons! This story is a wonderful, magical representation of why it is okay to be different. Don’t like growing corn? That’s mighty fine, you can grow balloons. The balloons don’t represent just balloons. They represent what it means to be different.[return][return]Genre: Fantasy[return]Reading Level: Primary
  kristi_test_01 | Sep 12, 2019 |
Narrated by a young African-American girl living in the rural American South, this original tall tale relates the story of Harvey Potter, an unassuming farmer who raises crop after crop of brightly-colored balloons. The girl befriends Harvey, who is the kind of man who lets "a person be," and the two enjoy calm afternoons on his porch. Curious about his unusual crop, which an ornery neighbor had reported to the government once, the girl spies on Harvey late one night, and discovers his method for raising balloons. Eventually, aided by this unusual friend and his balloons, the girl sets off into the world, becoming a balloon farmer herself...

I wasn't sure quite what to expect when I picked up Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm. I hadn't read anything by author Jerdine Nolen before, although illustrator Mark Buehner was known to me for the Snowmen at Night picture-books that he created with his wife. How happy I am that I gave it a chance! The story is told with a slight Southern dialect that feels authentic - Nolen grew up in Mississippi - and is immensely appealing. I enjoyed the matter-of-factly magical goings on, which reminded me a bit of the work of Chris Van Allsburg, and appreciated the fact that the friendship between the girl and Harvey crosses racial lines, but that this is never commented upon. It feels natural, just like everything else in the story. The artwork was colorful and expressive, capturing the sense of magic and fun in the tale. The nighttime scenes were particularly well done, playing with light in wonderful ways. All in all, a lovely book, one I would recommend to anyone looking for entertaining works of picture-book fantasy, or children's stories set in the South. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 17, 2019 |
Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm is a tall tale written in the first person perspective of a young African American girl from the rural South. As she gets to know Harvey Potter, she relishes in the fact that he "just let a person be" which appears to be a common thread in this tale. The conflict in the story arises when a fellow local farmer calls the government on Harvey Potter in order to shut him down. Apparently, he is the only person in the story who doesn't 'let a person be' because the town is overjoyed when the government approves of Mr. Potters farm. The book is beautifully illustrated and will hold a child's attention easily. In the end, she has been endowed with the power to grow her own balloon farm and the magic of the land continues. The story magnifies the need to accept others even if they seem strange or different than you because you never know when or from where something wonderful will come. ( )
  JSkoros | Feb 28, 2019 |
Summary: This book is about a man named Harvey Potter who had a farm that grew many different colors of balloons. They came in all different shapes and sizes. Harvey was a very plain man, but what he did wasn't plain at all. The government came to investigate and everyone hoped they would get to keep the balloon farm. After the government decided that the balloons were normal, they gave him the right to grow the balloons. The narrator tried to find out why and how he grew balloons but he never let her know.At night he did his fielding and as the little girl was spying, she saw Harvey dance with his stick and magic was happening. The stick he carried with him was magical. In the end, this little girl learned how to harvest her own balloons.

Personal: This book is a good way gateway to imagination. It is truly magical and a cute book. The illustrations are vibrant and filled with all the different balloons that Harvey grew.

Classroom Extension:
1. The teacher could have students blow up balloons and decorate them and incorporate with a lesson.
  KatherineMoon | Jul 17, 2017 |
i have always loved Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm since I was a child. The main message of creativity and having differences shines through so beautifully throughout all of the pages. This book helps to teach children that it is okay to be different and have your own way of doing things. People will still love what you do, even if it is not normal. One of the main reasons why this is such an excellent children's book is because of the illustrations. The brightly colored balloons in all shades of reds, and blues, and purples, mixed with the realistic yet still perfectly cartoon-y people helps to bring the reader even deeper into the book. Also, the dialogue in the book makes it an especially entertaining read. The southern accent comes through in the changing of words like "old" into "ole" and the dropping of the -g in words like "pleasin'" and "yellin'". Overall, I think this is an excellent picture book with a great, relatable message for all of the students who pick it up. ( )
  ghall6 | Apr 11, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jerdine Nolenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buehner, MarkIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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