Friday, 15 June 2012

Picture Book Review: Cloth From the Clouds

Cloth from the Clouds by Michael Catchpool, illustrated by Alison Jay (Walker Books)
HB RRP $29.95
ISBN 9781862337992
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

A boy spins thread from the clouds – gold in the morning, white in the afternoon and crimson at evening – to weave cloth on his loom, but only as much as needed. His mother’s words are always foremost in his mind as he works, ‘Enough is enough and not one stitch more.’ He weaves two scarves, one to protect his head when it is hot and another to wrap around his neck when it is cold.

The King notices the uniqueness of the cloth and orders the boy to make a longer scarf for him. The child tries to explain that the king doesn’t need it. This angers the royal who commands the boy to do what he’s told. The finished item is breathtaking. So much so, he then commands clothing for his wife and daughter.

Slowly the precious resource is exhausted.  There are no clouds, therefore no rain for the farmers and their flocks and crops. It is not until the princess, believing ‘there is still time’, rolls up the garments and returns them to their source, that the clouds and a natural balance is restored once again.

Awareness between need and want, greed and excess, is the theme of this poignant, and delicately illustrated book. The illustrations throughout are created to identify with cracked china, symbolic of the fragile state of nature, and the outcome of misuse by humankind. The joyous fact that children have the wisdom to see things clearer than the adults projects hope and optimism for the future.

This is definitely a book that will be shared and discussed by adult and child readers because of the significant messages it carries.

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