We didn't like
Being small has its advantages . . .
If you’re a little cloud like Cloudette, you can always find a good spot to watch the fireworks. But what if you want to do something big, like help a garden grow? When a thunderstorm blows Cloudette far from her neighborhood, she discovers what a little cloud can do that makes a big difference. Follow her on her pursuit of greatness! (From the book cover.)
4.5 of 5 stars
While stories that teach about self-worth aren’t extremely unique, Cloudette conveys the message in a fun, lighthearted way. We quickly fell in love with our new little cloud friend, and our kids enjoyed seeing how different cloud formations were imbued with personalities that matched their sizes and shapes.
Humorous moments provide comic relief in a story otherwise driven by Cloudette’s struggle to find her own value. Our kids laughed when Cloudette tried to make friends with puffs of smoke coming from a cabin chimney. And they chuckled when Cloudette interjects that the little cloud didn’t just have an idea, but it was “More like a brainstorm, actually.”
The illustrations also contribute to the book’s originality. In one instance, a blueprint is used to show the difference between the size of an average cloud and Cloudette – a visual break from the otherwise majestic scenes of big clouds in a bright blue sky.
3.5 of 5 stars
A paragraph hidden on the copyright page notes: “The illustrations are rendered in ink, pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor. The water part of the watercolor was collected in a bucket during a rainstorm, so this book is partially made of clouds. Thank you, clouds.”
The combination of artistic media pays off, as many of the illustrations are simply gorgeous.
While some of the illustrations are among our favorite children’s book illustrations, the book lacked some consistency in illustration style. While some of these variations were appealing and advanced the story, others felt like they broke up the story a bit and downgraded the book’s quality.
The images containing isolated characters and objects are beautifully formed, colored, and shaded. They evoke emotion and connect the reader to the characters and plot. The illustrations containing more scenery lacked the same emotive power. Taken alone, they are still strong compared with the average children’s book, but the inconsistency was noticeable.
3.5 of 5 stars
The writing is solid. There are two layers of text throughout the book: the main story and side commentary by some of the characters. The witty side commentary (“Hi, pipsqueak!”; “That’s nutty.”; “What a cute little cumulus!”) kept our older kids interested. We find that we have to skip parts of the book to keep the younger kids interested. There aren’t really any one-liners that our kids will quote over and over, but the text conveys the story effectively.
4 of 5 stars
During her quest, Cloudette discovers a pond that has dried up. When she dumps rain on the spot, she rejuvenates the area and brings the plants and animals back. While not scientifically deep, we like how the book teaches a subtle lesson about the importance of water to ecosystems. Edutainment! Teach a lesson without the kids realizing it!
5 of 5 stars
Cloudette begins by appreciating her small size. But she comes to envy the abilities of the larger clouds and wants to contribute the way they do. Once Cloudette discovers that she can make a difference, she is “exhausted, but happy.” This leads her to realize that there are “other big and important things a little cloud can do.”
We appreciate the lesson of self-worth and use the book to teach our kids about using their talents to help others.
Rating by Kids
4 of 5 stars
Our kids liked the book on the first read, and they still enjoy it when we pull it off the shelf. Our 4-year-old kept it in her bed for a couple of months, but our 9-year-old daughter thinks it’s for “little kids.”
Rating by Adults
4 of 5 stars
We like the positive message, unique illustrations, and cute main character.
About the Author & Illustrator
(from the cover)
Tom Lichtenheld spends a lot of time with his head in the clouds, writing and illustrating books for children. His recent books include Bridget’s Beret and the New York Times bestseller Duck! Rabbit!, which he created with Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and Shark vs. Train, created with Chris Barton. You can see all his books and more at tomlichtenheld.com.