Saturday, August 27, 2011
Cloudette, written and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Henry Holt, 2011. $16.99 ages 3 and up
Cloudette likes many of the responses she gets to her small size. The other clouds take care of her and call her pet names that she loves. Others, who are scared of the bigger clouds, seem to like her and want to be her friends. She takes up little space, and that can be a very good for watching fireworks, or hiding, or sleeping on a crescent moon.
When those other clouds have gone off to do something important, Cloudette is content. But, she has dreams and aspirations:
"She wanted to make a garden grow.
She wanted to make a brook babble.
She wanted to make a waterfall fall.
And she thought nothing would be more
fun than giving some kids a day off from
She wonders how she might help; but nobody has need of her. Poor Cloudette!
A change in location, that comes with a big storm, is just the push she needs to find someone to help.
Tom Lichtenheld introduces an expressive and lovable character in this little cloud. He gives her a sunny disposition, and a helpful nature. He chooses his words and dialogue carefully, to assure that young listeners pay attention and find humor in his story. As well as all that, he adds details along the way to guarantee a return performance of this tale, with a need to stop and have a more careful conversation about what is on each page.
In my first reading, I was tickled to see the cow on the moon where Cloudette spends her nights, and loved to look at her world from a variety of perspectives.Tom makes the change of venue clear and interesting, lodging her for the second part of the story in a densely forested area. The bigger clouds lend support and offer up additional humor with their alliterative responses to Cloudette's good work. If you keep a concentrated watch, you will find little surprises everywhere!
You might even be rewarded in finding Tom Lichtenheld's delightful dedication (with thanks to the bigger clouds for alliterative inspiration):
"The illustrations are rendered in ink, pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor. The water part of the watercolor was collected in a bucket during a rainstorm, so this book is partially made of clouds. Thank you, clouds."