cover image I Am Smoke

I Am Smoke

Henry Herz, illus. by Mercè López. Tilbury House, $18.95 (36p) ISBN 978-0-88448-788-3

Smoke itself narrates this story about all the ways that humans have used the “swirling, roiling mist of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ash” in this extensive treatment of the elusive material. Debuting artist López integrates photographic images of smoke into earth-toned spreads, creating realistic-looking effects. Incidents of people using smoke appear throughout: “I lack fingers, but I can nudge. Hundreds of years ago, I helped Huron farmers coax pumpkin seeds to sprout with my warmth,” Herz writes. “I lack a mouth, but I can speak,” the smoke says, as signals rise from fires blazing on hills and cliffs in different parts of the world. Smoke preserves food, makes spaces smell good—it even calms bees. A careful description of how smoke dissipates and how it breaks down chemically concludes the story. Though the affiliation of an Indigenous group in traditional dress isn’t specified, the afterword supplies context for each page, with attention to smoke’s part in climate change. Ages 6–8. (Sept.)