A simple story about fitting in and finding your place in the world.
Cyril is a little grey cloud. A lonely little grey cloud. All Cyril wants is to look down on the world and see a happy smile. However, no one is ever pleased to see Cyril. He knows what all the people are thinking – they all wish he could go away and stop spoiling their fun. This makes him cry and his tears of rain are even less welcome. Cyril decides to leave. He travels a long, long way searching for a friendly face. He floats over farmland, rivers and bridges, over towns and famous cities, and finally over a huge ocean. While travelling across the water, Cyril gets bigger and bigger until he is HUGE. To his surprise, the animals in this new land are pleased to see him. It’s hot and he provides welcome shade. They even smile when he starts to shed tears of happiness. Cyril doesn’t need to be lonely anymore.
I don’t normally give away the entire plot, including the conclusion, in a book review. However, this is such a simple story that it’s hard to summarise without spoilers. Fortunately, the simplicity of the story can actually be seen as a strength. Aimed at the youngest end of the picture book market, the story is easy to understand for young children. The simplicity also makes it a relatively quick read, making it perfect for a bedtime read (especially for a busy adult).
Having said this, the readership doesn’t have to be restricted to very young children. If you have time for discussion, there are lots of opportunities to use this story to help slightly older children understand the world around them. For example, the inclusion of the scenes over the ocean will give you the chance to explain children how clouds are formed while the different types of land, the animals, and even the famous buildings could all be used to prompt interesting conversations.
The illustrations are bold, colourful and heavily stylised with an almost childlike quality. I was particularly impressed how author / illustrator, Tim Hopgood, managed to give a cloud a distinct personality and ensure he was recognisable as the same character on each page. I also loved the pictures of the desert where it’s almost possible to feel the sun beating down. The animals on these pages, from the lion who is grinning broadly to the birds and insects, are also truly delightful.
If you enjoyed this, why not try another book by Tim Hopgood such as Walter’s Wonderful Web or Wow! Said the Owl. Alternatively, if you’d like to try a different picture book with equally bright and stylised pictures, grab yourself of a copy of Leap Frog by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup.
Date: March 2019
Publisher: Oxford University Press