Friday, September 13, 2013

The Cloud Book words and pictures by Tomie de Paola (1975)

My brother and I owned this book, although let's be perfectly frank here:  even though the book was given to both of, it was mine by dint of use.  My brother can probably count the books he has read in his lifetime on one hand.  I don't ever recall him sitting still with a book.  Nor most of my family either - I was definitely the reader.  The eminence of egghead-ery knowledgeably declare that in order to get your kids to become readers, they should see you reading. That may be true in some cases, but it certainly wasn't in my case. Making sure kids have their own libraries is also touted as a cure for reading-phobia, but that also didn't prove to be true for my brother or sister.  I loved having a personal library though.

I knew coming into The Cloud Book that it was about clouds.  It's an incredibly cute book, with shades of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are or  In the Night Kitchen (without the nudity), and I love the illustrations.  But don't pick this up thinking you are going to learn everything you ever wanted to know about clouds.  You are going to find out the names of various kinds of clouds, which I remember liking as a kid; some funny phrases about clouds, some quick folklore, and that's about it.  There is one small passage about what clouds are made of, but as to what they actually are, why they float in the sky, why they form in the first place, why fog comes so low and some stay so high - well, forget it.  Hopefully your child doesn't ask any of these questions.  If so, you are going to be forced to make up an answer.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
One of those mid 1970s books that everyone of a certain age probably saw in their local public or elementary school library, and may (or may not) have checked out.  The illustrations, like most if not all dePaola, are cute without being overly so.  Nothing cloying here.  if you have an inquisitive child with questions about clouds, this may not be the book for him or her though.  Much of the book is devoted to naming different kinds of clouds, one page is about what clouds are made of, and some parts of the books have some folklore.  If your child wants to know, for example,why clouds float in the sky but fog creeps along the ground or how clouds form in the first place, you may just have to rely on you making up an imaginative answer.  It's still an adorable book though.  And may spark the interests of a future meteorologist, who knows.

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