Monday, 15 April 2013

Not a Cloud in the Sky

Not a Cloud in the Sky by Emma Quay (ABC Books/Harper Collins)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780733330919
Reviewed by Sharon McGuinness

Bird had been flying for such a long time.
Sometimes everything looked the same all over.
Nothing different.
Nothing at all.
Apart from the odd cloud.

A lovely beginning to Emma Quay’s latest picture book featuring something that we have all shared with children (and adults) – watching clouds float by, changing shape and using our imaginations to conjure specific shapes.

Bird had been flying for a long time and everything looked the same until he saw a cloud drifting. Cloud says hello to Bird. An interchange begins, with cloud changing as the breeze pulls him into different shapes for Bird to guess. Both Cloud and Bird find this very entertaining and as the day draws to a close, Cloud is tiring, small wisps of him disappearing on the breeze. As the sun sets, he conjures a final magnificent shape of a dragon, its fiery breath represented by the glowing sunset.

Bird settles down to roost for the evening but is loath to leave his friend Cloud ‘See you in the morning?’ he asks. The story ends as it begins. 'Nothing different, nothing at all.' Except that Bird has roosted in a tree with other birds like himself. He will wake tomorrow amongst other new friends. Cloud may have moved on, but Bird will not be alone. Another bird comes in to roost below Bird and looks up at him expectantly, mirroring Bird at the beginning of the story – the cycle of friendship will continue.

Young children will enjoy one level of the narrative where Cloud befriends Bird and changes shape for him to guess, yet older children may also recognize the themes of loss, letting go and change as Cloud moves on – though he will be there in one way or another. Cloud could evaporate or turn into rain which in turn feeds the rivers and plants.

The endpapers continue the theme of change illustrating the progression of the  day, with the sun at the beginning and ending with the moon. Quay shows the cloud at it’s different stages of metamorphosis into a variety of shapes and this continues on the back cover, providing children with additional shapes to guess. See Quay’s website for examples of her illustrations in progress.

A gentle book which will be shared and enjoyed.

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