Sunday 28 June 2015

The Cloud

A dark cloud hangs over the little girl's head.What does it mean?Why is it there? Does it represent her feelings? Is she frightened, angry, lonely?A simple story prompting discussions to support social and emotional awareness.
The Cloud
Author/Illustrator: Hannah Cumming
Published by Child's Play 2010 (edition I am reviewing here)
Library Copy reviewed
Book Description
Back of Book: In Art Class, one girl never draws anything. Quiet and withdrawn, she seems to have a little cloud above her. But one of her classmates is determined to make her smile, and in so doing, they discover a way of making art that everyone else can enjoy, too.

This simple, short story tells the tale of a young child who attends art class, but seems to be isolated from the group. We don't know why, but the little girl looks unhappy, doesn't draw anything and is not spoken to. 
One class mate decides that she will try to reach out and befriend the girl. It's hard work at first- the dreary cloud hangs heavily around this little lady. But, with time and many attempts, soon she smiles and her cloud begins to diminish. 
The other children at art class see that, by working in pairs art class is more fun. So by the end, the children have paired up to make interesting paintings and in the final double page spread, we see the whole art class happily painting a giant collage together.
The illustrations are beautiful with some lovely background detail.

More from Missus B
I really enjoyed the illustrations and how the author has used colour to give us a visual sense of the atmosphere surrounding the girl with 'the cloud.' In the opening pages we see through a window that, it's raining and dark outside, hence a dull setting. As the story progresses, we see the clouds departing and eventually the sun is shining brightly creating a warm, yellow hue. Of course, this effect perfectly supports the transition in the story itself.

'The Cloud' painting in the book is an analogy for dark feelings which could be sadness, anger or loneliness. Throughout the short story, we see it hovering over and radiating from the little girl, showing how it isolates her from her peers. 
We also see how 'the cloud' can impact on others- the child who attempts friendship can't see her way through the darkness of the cloud, she cowers away from it and feels sad when she first tries talking to the girl.

The book is also filled with the cute and comical art work created by the children in class. Cumming has perfectly captured their child-like sketches and squiggles. The paired art-work is also a fun element to the story- we see children painting to create fun animals and objects -something your child readers may want to try.

The story here is simple, yet the book offers opportunities to consider social situations, discuss feelings, talk about friendships and think about the importance of reaching out to others. The simplicity of the story can appeal to younger children, while it's core message can enhance the emotional learning of young school go-ers and older children.                           
Happy reading, 

Missus B

                                             See my video review here

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