Book Cover Premiere: I Have a Balloon

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Ariel Bernstein and Scott Magoon join us today for the cover reveal of their brand new picture book, I Have a Balloon! Watch the video below, then keep reading to learn more about the inspiration behind the story.

Can you tell us a little bit about I HAVE A BALLOON’s story?

Ariel: I HAVE A BALLOON starts with Owl, who has a shiny red balloon. Her friend Monkey sees the balloon, and decides he’s never wanted anything so much as that shiny red balloon. Monkey offers to trade Owl every object he has, until all he has left to offer is a sock. But when Owl points out that this sock has a star and a perfectly shaped hole, Monkey has a pretty tough decision to make.

What materials did you use to make the illustrations in this story?

Scott: For the first time in sketching a book I used my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil! What a treat—very natural-feeling and easy to integrate with my digital art workflow. Some day I want to do an entire book’s worth of final drawings on it because I really enjoy using Apple Pencil. It is very balanced and precise; I love the quality of it more than my Wacom pen. For this book though the final line work I used a big ol’ fat digital brush on my Wacom Cintiq tablet. Its a dry brush though so I had to either live with the scrappy unfinished line or go over certain areas again if I wanted a solid line. Most of the time I didn’t want a solid line. I was after a very energetic and charged line given the action of that monkey. The color is rendered with my now chintzy-feeling Wacom pen.

What’s a page from the book or an excerpt from the story you’re really excited for readers to see?

Ariel: There’s a scene in the book where Monkey offers Owl a sunflower. In my original manuscript, I had an art note that the sunflower then droops to the ground. Since the art note wasn’t necessary to explain the story, I ended up deleting it. I was so happy to see that Scott thought on his own to put the sunflower drooping into his illustrations! I think it’s such a fun image for the story and Scott puts so much great humor into it.

Scott: I can’t wait for readers to read as Monkey goes ape attempting to trade a robot, a bowling pin, a bowling ball and a sock for Owl’s balloon. Ariel adds many counterpoint “No’s” and intersperses them with Monkey’s super-random offers. It’s funny stuff!

We assume you each are good sharers, but what’s one thing you are not so good at sharing?

Ariel: One of my favorite things is to eat popcorn with M&M’s while watching a movie. I have to admit, I am not great at sharing my popcorn with M&M’s.

Scott: I’m not good at sharing details of my personal life and opinions on social media! I’m also reluctant to share a small hot pizza. I mean…right?

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

Ariel: The final illustration isn’t referenced in the text and shows a character that Scott thought up all on his own. I got to be wonderfully surprised just like the readers will be!

Scott: Thanks for having us here, ATW! And thanks Ariel for your wonderful manuscript and to all of you out there reading this. One last thought—sharing is caring—and making empathetic compromises is how we grow and persevere positively with others. Pass it on, like a balloon.

Thanks for sharing I Have a Balloon with us!

I Have a Balloon will be on sale from Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books beginning Fall 2017.

Ariel Bernstein is the author of the picture book I HAVE A BALLOON (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster, 2017) and the upcoming WARREN AND DRAGON chapter books (Viking Children’s, 2018). Ariel can be found online at and on Twitter @ArielBBooks.

Scott Magoon is an author and illustrator. He drew SPOON by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Hyperion), THE NUTS Series by Eric Litwin (Little, Brown) and wrote and drew BREATHE and THE BOY WHO CRIED BIGFOOT (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster). Visit Scott online at


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