cover image Cloudette


Tom Lichtenheld, Holt/Ottaviano, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8776-5

Lichtenheld, the illustrator of Shark vs. Train, turns in a quieter story about a small cloud and her search for a place to fit in (if the scenario recalls 2007's The Police Cloud, rest assured Cloudette stands on her own). It's not that she isn't popular with the larger clouds—"Everybody called her cute little names"—but that she wants to do things like "make a waterfall fall," things that are "big and important." And bigger clouds have a monopoly on creating storms, watering crops, and replenishing rivers. Sprinkled with punny jokes, Lichtenheld's polished spreads show Cloudette as a simple, scalloped-edged puff who looks mighty dejected as she tries to be useful. "Sorry, it's all done by machines," explains a man outside a marvelously retro car wash. Cloudette eventually finds a fine place to rain and gathers a raft of admiring comments. That Cloudette is neither bullied nor intimidated is an important point; she's the one who feels she has a special gift to give, and she solves her problem independently. Neatly constructed and nicely pitched, the message of self-reliance comes through as clear as a cloudless day. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)