Saturday 31 March 2012

91. Cloth from the Clouds by Mark Catchpool and illustrated by Alison Jay

Cloth From The Clouds by Michael Catchpool and illustrated by Alison Jay
Published April 2012 Walker Books

From the publisher:

The boy who spins cloth from the clouds is wise. He spins only enough cloth for a warm winter scarf, not one stitch more. But a greedy King sees the marvellous cloth and demands that the boy spin cloaks and gowns galore. Soon there are fewer clouds in the sky and finally the rain stops. Will it be possible to undo the damage done by greed?

I should start by saying that I am a bit biased towards Alison Jay, in that I love her work.
This book did not disappoint.

It’s a beautiful book about a boy who can spin cloth from cloud.  The cloth is so beautiful that the king wants all of his clothes made from this cloth. The boy warns the king that it is not wise to use too much of this cloth, but the king does not listen. So the boy spins and he spins, until there are no clouds left.

This is, in part a story about greed, but there is a strong environmental message too. It looks at the consequences of using up limited resources.  It could also be a book to use when looking at the water cycle.  When there are no more clouds, the farmers visit the king and complain that their animals are thirsty and their crops are dying, because without clouds, there is no rain.

Now the reason I love Alison Jay so much is the detail in her illustrations.  It’s the sort of detail you may not even notice at first glance, unless you know to look out for it. In her earlier books she will often link the pages together by having something in the background of one page feature on the next, and then something in the background there featuring on the next and so on.  While they are often very simple pre school titles, there is a lot going on if you look closer.  With this book the clouds are all shapes and sizes, animals, a bed, a crown and on the cover clothes.  Also at the beginning of the book there are smiley faces to be found on the hillsides, but as the clouds start to disappear they turn to frowns. Very subtle details, but they add another dimension to the book when you know to look.

Who will like this book: Boys and Girls age 6 +
Read it if you like: The Quiltmakers Gift by Jeff Brumbeau

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