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Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Boy Asked the Wind, written by Barbara Nickel and illustrated by Gillian Newland. Red Deer Press, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2015. $19.95 ages 8 and up

"Then wildly, loudly,
Cape Doctor howled the
smog away.
For fifteen nights and
fifteen days
she cleared the air of
fumes, of haze,
of dust and smoke
from factories."

Gifted authors seem to take every opportunity that presents itself to tell a new story. Barbara Nickel's son was the inspiration for this lovely tale about the wind and where it lives:

"A boy asked the wind, "Where do you live?"
And the wind up high in the flag shivered,
the wind down low in the grass rivered
over his toes to scatter the leaves."

The wind responds by taking the boy on a journey around the world, showing him the five types of wind explored in Ms. Nickel's poetic text. She celebrates those winds, allowing her readers to see the benefits they bring and the effects of the climate and geography on the way they work. The lovely descriptions create word pictures to help readers understand the wind's many faces. There are so many lovely images created in stunning poetry.  

Each description shows the increasing power of the wind. It affects humans and animals in all five regions of the world: Canada, Nicaragua, South Africa, Iraq and Greece. It ends quietly, bringing its story full circle for the boy who initially asked the question:

"remember ...

Chinook, Papagayo, one wind,
Cape Doctor, Shamal, Zephyr, one wind
with many voices, one wind with many faces.
My home is the world."

Gillian Newland's watercolor images so beautifully embody the way the wind changes, and the varied settings for each: prairie, ocean, mountainside, desert and finally, the gentleness of the zephyr wind which returns the boy home. End notes add appreciated information about the winds, alongside a world map and a glossary.

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