June shrugged off school’s schedule—the drop offs and pick-ups and the packing of lunch. Summer seemed to stretch out like a wide open lawn. But the acreage quickly filled with the schedule of camps—with drop offs and pick-ups and the packing of lunch.
Right about now, there’s something in the air. Maybe it’s the lighting or a new scent. But you begin to feel that summer is nearing its end. Before the scaffolding of the school schedule is fitted again, there is another attempt to get rid of routine. This, I think, is the real heart of summer. An earnest attempt to be schedule-less, to open up to unpredictability, maybe even to lose the concept of time. How? Travel. People pack their bags and go. Somewhere. Anywhere. Stay-over-night camp, relatives in another state, another city, anywhere other than where you are, it really doesn’t matter, just as long as rhythms and routines are set aside.
The Cloud Spinner is, as its title suggests, about a boy who makes fine clothes spun from clouds “just as his mother had taught him.” When the greedy King learns of the boy’s talents he demands many outfits be made. Using repetitive and cautionary words, the boy explains over-and-over: “It would not be wise … Your Majesty does not need them.” The clouds eventually disappear and action must be taken. Alison Jay’s signature paintings with the crackle varnish lend themselves well to this clever and fantastical, “green” fairy tale told by Michael Catchpool—the crackling provides an aged feeling of wisdom, while her bright pallet and fanciful placement of animals add a level of freshness that draws young readers in easily. When it comes to delivering a message of conserving resources for our future, a story driven by a child protagonist is the perfect antidote—as gentle as a floating cloud overhead, Catchpool’s tale gives power to the young people!