People often use words like “classic” or “timeless” to describe picture books that will stand the test of time. I’d like to introduce you to a brand-new classic.
It is Saturday. And on Saturdays, Lizzy goes for a walk with her parents to this lovely park.
And what does Lizzy want at the park? Why, a cloud, of course. If you spied a cloudseller, wouldn’t you want a cloud, too?
So Lizzy picks out a cloud. Not a fancy one. Just an “ordinary cloud.” One that’s only slightly larger than her head, the perfect size to take home.
And what does the walk home look like?
Of course Lizzy has to pass by The Stopped Clock store, because so much about this book is timeless, or maybe I should say frozen in what feels like a simpler time. But I digress…
Lizzy finds out that clouds come with care instructions. And if you don’t follow ALL of the instructions, well, you might just find yourself in a wee bit of trouble.
If I were to venture into the world of metaphor when discussing this book (because that is what I often do), I’d say that this small, ordinary cloud is a child. Lizzy must care for it, help it grow, and pay attention to the most important instruction:
Never confine a cloud to a small space.
But in the end, Lizzy discovers what that truly means:
Let your cloud float free.
My friends, this is a book about being a parent and letting go. And while this topic is, perhaps, at the forefront of my mind because my son is graduating high school next week, and heading off to college in the fall, I don’t think this is a stretch at all.
For the child reader, it’s enough to enter into this fanciful world where you can go to the park and take home a cloud, and care for it like a pet. But there’s also the element of knowing when it’s time to set a beloved thing/person/pet free, for whatever reason, that adds another layer of meaning to the story.
Like many Fan brother creations, the illustrations are dreamlike and beautifully detailed. And there are undies to check out, too. The back end papers include images of a sailing ship, mountains, a hot air balloon, and “keys to unknown doors,” all things that can be seen as metaphors for setting off on life’s grand adventure. Go ahead and give this book to parents whose grown clouds are leaving home, for whatever reason, and hug them when they weep. Then give it to the younger crowd to spark their imagination and delight.
Watch a SciShow Kids video about what clouds are and how they’re formed.
Pair with a book about the water cycle, Water is Water by Miranda Paul.
Go outside, find shapes in the clouds, and draw them.
Make your own cloud on a stick. Layer two pieces of construction paper together and glue or tape them together at the corners. Draw a fanciful cloud shape on one side of the construction paper, and then cut the shape out of the double layer. Glue or tape the paper cloud together (if needed) at a couple of places along the edges, but not in the center where you will place the stick. Shred cotton balls and glue them to both sides to make your cloud puffy. Place the stick between the two glued pieces of paper, and tape it to the inside. Now take your cloud for a walk.
Title: Lizzy and the Cloud
Author/Illustrator: The Fan Brothers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2022
Ages: Pre-K to adult
Themes: clouds, growing up
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.