Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: The Cloud Spinner By Michael Catchpool and Illustrated by Alison Jay

In this lovely, dreamy fable, a wise young boy spins clouds into cloth under the stricture "Enough is enough and not one stitch more." One day a greedy king spies his cloud-woven scarf and wants more, more, more, despite the young boy's warnings. When the king's greed dries up the clouds, it's up to the observant princess and the wise boy to set things right.

Released as Cloth From the Clouds in Britain, this story has a universal appeal for both boys and girls, and works beautifully for a read-aloud. Catchpool employs the stricture from the story, using just enough words to convey the story and "not one [word] more." Further, he understands the need for key (non-annoying) repetitive phases that keep the story anchored, and delivers his message of conservation in a gentle but effective manner. Brilliantly done.

 The only book we've read previously by Michael Catchpool is his Where There's a Bear, There's Trouble, which was (and still is) universally adored by all three of my girls as toddlers. (Susanna, at five, still loves it and I still see the older two pulling it out of the bookshelf to read themselves on occasion.)

Alison Jay's deceptively simple, gorgeous folk art illustrations pair perfectly with this story. The colors are so beautiful. My children delighted in the cloud shapes and the smiling hills. (See the one on the cover?) I have loved her art since I first saw it on the original covers of Shannon Hale's Bayern series (The Goose Girl, Enna Burning and River Secrets. Click on the links to see the original covers.)

Bottom line: This book was definitely worth the purchase and I know it will be read again and again in the Neal house.

I nominated this book for the 2012 CYBILS in the Fiction Picture Book category.

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