“This beautifully illustrated journey of a little cloud is fact-filled but off-puttingly cheerful.”
The story of a “little cloud who wanted to become a hurricane” and his journey from where he was born (the coast of Africa) to North America where he finally achieves his desire. Jam-packed with facts and cloud tid-bits on every page, the story follows the little cloud’s development from a cumulus cloud to a tropical depression, then forming into a hurricane and scaling back to another tropical depression. The illustrations are cute, cheery, and child-friendly, and showcase not only the cloud’s journey, but also the preparations of the people in the hurricane’s path. While it may be the story’s intention to not scare its child audience, both the text and the illustrations take this a little too far, with people grinning as they prepare for the hurricane to touch down in a way that belies that fear, damage, and destruction that accompanies these massive storms. The very premise of the story—a little cloud who wants to become a hurricane and his seemingly only casual concern for the people in his path—feels uncomfortable and not fully healed by the parting comment that “whatever “his next adventure would be . . . he would bring good weather to people instead.” The side facts with their thumbnail illustrations make this an excellent STEM book for teaching about the water cycle and tropical storms, but the mismatched tone with the way the subject matter is presented causes this to fall flat of its potential.
What Kind of Book is Little Cloud: The Science of a Hurricane
Johanna Wagstaffe is the meteorologist and science host for CBC Vancouver and CBC News Network. With a background in seismology, geophysics and earth science, Johanna has covered a wide range of science stories, from the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire and the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami to the Paris Climate Change Conference. She lives in Vancouver.
Julie McLaughlin is an award-winning illustrator whose work includes commissions for editorial, advertising and publishing clients from around the world. Her previous books have been nominated for several awards, and she won the 2015 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction for Why We Live Where We Live (OwlKids). Julie grew up on the Prairies and now resides on Vancouver Island.
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February 18, 2020
The font used in this book is a combination of Cabrito Sans, Cabrito Normal and hand lettering.
Artwork created with graphite and finished digitally.