Cloth From The Clouds
Author: Michael Catchpool
Illustrator: Alison Jay
BUY – Cloth from the Clouds
Out in the countryside on top of a hill, a little boy lives who can weave cloth from the clouds.
His mother had taught him to spin them as they passed. Gold in the morning as the sun rose, white in the afternoon and crimson as the sun went down.
He would spin the clouds into thread and then using his loom he would weave it into cloth. The boy was wise as he made just enough cloth for two scarves. One to protect him from the sun and the other to keep him warm.
This is a story about ecological balance and the damage that is done through greed.
It is also about bravery and the strength to give up things we desire to set things right.
The rest of the story is more predictable as a king sees the beautiful scarf the boy is wearing and commands him to make a wardrobe of clothes for the royal family.
The only one who is not so delighted with the new clothes is the little princess, as she has heard the truth in the boys warning that it would not be wise to make so much cloth from clouds.
However the king will have his way and soon the sky is empty and the land parched. Villagers complain in desperation as their crops begin to die and their animals become thirsty.
“Why are you moaning to me?” he bellowed!
The little princess however acknowledges the connection and that evening in secret she returns all the clothes to the boy.
“Is it too late to undo what has been done”
This is the most important environmental question of this century!
She watches in awe as he teases the cloth back into clouds which float away in the soft evening light.
“There is still time”
It rains the next day, the villagers are overjoyed, the king and queen who cannot find their cloud clothes are left to wonder and the little princess sings happily with a smile as bright as a rainbow.
Alison Jay has an unusual and easily recognised style of illustration. The figures feature small heads on bulky bodies and overly rounded creatures and objects. The picture surfaces are covered by a cracked pottery glaze effect which gives them the look of pretty object art. The illustrations are strangely appealing, with their soft rich colours and dramatic shadows.
Fluffy clouds form the shapes of animals in a gentle downy edged style.
The hills too are rather lovely, as sheep and plants have been positioned so they resemble heads with faces adding to the concept that nature is alive and personified, deserving respect and care.
Perhaps this whimsical little book will inspire children and adults alike to consider the impact of our choices.