cover image Cloud Country

Cloud Country

Bonny Becker, illus. by Noah Klocek. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4231-5732-8

This entry in the Pixar Animation Studios Artist Showcase series stars a heroine at an important crossroads. It’s Formation School Graduation Day, and all the cloudlets are expected to show their ability to make clouds that go by the book: stratus, cumulonimbus, and so forth. But Gale, a cloudlet who loves nothing better than to gaze down at the Earth, can only make clouds in “Land Below” shapes: a dog, a tugboat, a lamb. Certain that she’s a failure, Gale discovers instead that the ability to make what Becker (the Mouse and Bear series) calls “shapes the world can dream on” is just what her school is looking for. Klocek creates his cloud world out of voluminous, sculptural shapes and shades of white, lavender, and gold, an approach with some shortcomings; the characters feel more statuesque than cloudlike, and the soft palette often makes it difficult to find the focus of each spread. But the book raises an interesting question: What’s more important—technical prowess or the capacity to inspire? Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner Literary Agency. (Oct.)