cover image The Cloud Spinner

The Cloud Spinner

Michael Catchpool, illus. by Alison Jay. Knopf, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-87011-8

Who wouldn’t want a scarf “soft as a mouse’s touch and warm as roasted chestnuts”? That’s just the type of special garment crafted by the titular cloud spinner, a boy who transforms clouds into elegant threads in Catchpool’s ecological fable. When a greedy king spies the cloud spinner’s wonderful crimson and gold scarf, he orders the boy to fashion him an extra-long scarf—and cloaks and dresses for the queen and princess. Though the boy insists such abundance is not needed, recalling his mother’s philosophy, “Enough is enough and not one stitch more,” he complies. As a result, the entire kingdom learns what it means to lose such a valuable resource as the clouds, until the quiet and observant princess comes to the rescue. Jay’s now-signature paintings of exaggerated figures awash in a cracked varnish lend a timeless air of fantasy and whimsy to this original tale. Her hillsides appear to have faces (with sheep forming the eyes and mouths), and the clouds—which resemble various objects and animals—provide seek-and-find opportunities for readers. Ages 5–8. Illustrator’s agent: The Organisation. (Mar.)