cover image Kumo: The Bashful Cloud

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud

Kyo Maclear, illus. by Nathalie Dion. Tundra, $18.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6728-2

Maclear (If You Were a City) writes a tale as light and lilting as its cloud hero. Kumo, whose “only wish was to float unseen,” panics when she’s tapped for cloud duty. She’d strongly prefer not to venture out alone: “What if people point? What if I’m too airy?” Under pressure, she immediately becomes stuck in a tree, but a friendly kite and a breath of wind set her free. She gradually gains confidence as it becomes clear that her work—watering the earth and providing shade—is necessary and important. There’s pleasure in it, too, as she assumes fanciful forms for a dreaming boy: “Kumo knew it was hard being small in such a big place. And sometimes dreaming helped.” Quiet, sweeping panoramas, often in sunrise colors, nurture the sense of calm that comes with broad perspectives and new connections. Dion (The Big Bad Wolf in My House) emphasizes the natural forms of Kumo and her fellow clouds, creating distinctive shapes that bear just the suggestion of facial expressions in this memorable story about coming into one’s own. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. Illustrator’s agent: Sylvie Hamel, Anna Goodson Illustration Agency. (Sept.)