James and the birthday balloon – a book review

Last week I felt very lucky to be invited to the launch of Nicola Rowley’s new children’s book – James and the Birthday Balloon.  I was particularly excited because (not only was it a rare chance to get out of the house) but both Nicola and Cbeebies own, very lovely, Dr Ranj were there! Dr Ranj narrates the audio version that is downloadable with each copy. The event was held in the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and £1 from the sale of each book is being donated to the hospital.

The book is about James who has the ability to cheer people up with his kindness and smile (which reminded me a lot of my own Big L). His friend has an accident and hurts her leg and ends up in hospital and of course James goes to visit. Not only does he bring a smile to her face by giving her his balloon but he also cheers up the patients and visitors in A and E with his cheerful smile. It also aims to reassure children that going into hospital doesn’t need to be a scary experience.

At the launch Nicola and Dr Ranj read the book to a group of enthralled children and they both signed copies (I have one to give away – check my Facebook page for details). Once home I read the book with my 6-year-old.  He loved it. It’s so nice when children get lost in a book and can relate to them. After we’d read it Big L turned to me and said “that was a nice thing for James to do, to give away his balloon” and then immediately wanted to hear it read by Dr Ranj!

Just your normal Wednesday – me and Fran hanging out with Nicola Rowley and Dr Ranj

After he had finished signing the books Dr Ranj spared us a few minutes to answer questions. I was particularly interested in how he started in entertainment seeing as he is a doctor in “real life”. It turns out he answered a call out from the BBC for a young pediatrician and it sprialled from there. He’s also a main character in the Cbeebies Christmas Panto which he was very excited about – we quizzed him further on this but he was giving nothing away. I’m sure it will be on loop in our house once it’s released – what is it with kids and pantomimes?

We also asked about how we should prepare our children should they ever have to go to hospital. He gave us a few tips The ones that stuck in my mind (because I was a little bit star struck and he is a very handsome man) were to make sure you are honest with children. Telling them it will be OK is fine but don’t lie about what might happen, just reassure them without scaring them. Secondly there are a lot of resources online, on the television and books – use them!

The book is available from Amazon here – please do consider buying it, it’s a lovely book.  I also have a copy of the book to give away signed by both author Nicola Rowley and Dr Ranj – please see my Facebook Page for details.



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