Although it’s hard to figure out exactly where this book belongs—picture book? easy reader? chapter book?—one thing is for sure, it’s a fun read!

Colorful cartoons walk readers through a simplified version of the water cycle. The end pages are a rainbow of speckled strips of color and this cheerful theme reappears in the first chapter where a blue lake sits peacefully amidst a swathe of vibrant green grass and is bracketed by a brilliant orange sky and purple hills. The lake has a cheerful smiley face, a motif that will be repeated throughout the book. A simple sequence of cartoons shows the grinning sun warming up the lake, then the page shows a series of exuberant water droplets flying upwards, with yells of “Whoopie!” They form the cheerfully smiling Cloud who then becomes the main character in the story.

Readers will follow the fluffy white Cloud through many different incarnations, from fog to snow. Cloud is tipped with blue, frowns in worry as she turns black and spouts rain drops, and zips through the air with the help of wind, shown as a swirl of lines, eyes, and a pursed mouth. After a number of clouds come together to form a storm, the original Cloud gets to see a brilliant rainbow, echoing the sparkling end pages, and returns to her original lake where the evaporation process repeats and gives her a new cloud friend.

Throughout the informational plot, Hodgson moves back and forth between simple sequential panels showing the movement and changes in water from droplets to clouds and back again as precipitation, and full spreads of colorful but simple pictures. Basic drawings show mountains, forests, and beaches, but the focus is always on the action in the sky with smiling water droplets rising and falling, coming together to form snowflakes, and more. Most of the natural formations, from white-topped mountain peak to the brightly shining sun sport smiley faces.

At 68 pages this is double the length of the standard picture book and the size, 9.5×7″ is a little larger than a typical easy reader. The text, although simple, is also a little more complex than is usual for an easy reader, being similar to a beginning chapter although lacking the longer paragraphs. However, it would slot easily into any of these three collections.

The bright cartoon pictures, vibrant colors, and simple text will attract young comic fans, especially those who enjoy the gentle humor of Mo Willems and Maxwell Eaton III, and are not averse to a little learning with their comic fun. This is an ideal introduction to the water cycle and a perfect choice for a classroom read-aloud leading into a project and more research on the water cycle and formation of clouds and storms.

When Cloud Became a Cloud
By Rob Hodgson
ISBN: 9780593224915
Rise/Penguin Workshop, 2021

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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