Cloud Country

cover

Written by Bonny Becker, Illustrated by Noah Klocek

Disney Hyperion, 2015

Gale floated on a warm breeze, watching the Land Below.

The plot in a nutshell: A young cloud makes whimsical formations.

Gale loves looking at the Land Below instead of practicing cloud shapes for the final test at Formation School. She does some last minute attempts, trying to create a perfect cumulonimbus cloud, but she makes an elephant and a lamb instead. At the graduation ceremony, the other students make wispy clouds and swirly funnel clouds, but when it’s Gale’s turn, she makes clouds shaped like a tugboat and a dog. Frustrated, she begins to cry and tells the Guardians that all her shapes turn out to look like things from the Land Below. The oldest Guardian tells her that she’s a Daydream Cloud and that she will make shapes for people to daydream on in the Land Below. Gale is overjoyed.

This book was the second release in the Pixar Animation Studios Artist Showcase series, which features original stories and artwork from Pixar artists and animators. Artist Noah Klocek came up with the story and collaborated with writer Bonny Becker to write the book’s actual text. The story here is wonderful and inspiring, with a really beautiful ending that may have your little ones spending more time gazing at the clouds (and that’s never a bad thing).

guardian

The oldest cloud looks like Santa Claus.

But this is an artist’s showcase book for a reason and the artwork here really is something special. Mr. Klocek posted some videos on his blog about the creation of this book and it was really interesting to learn about his process, particularly in the way he used his sketchbooks to help him create and set up the story. His color palette is gorgeous, using the shadows and natural light that you’d find in a cloud world to reflect the moods of his characters. The characters are drawn so perfectly that you have a real sense of their substance and how they would move and feel, which is saying something, considering that they’re all clouds. I loved it.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the world needs people to do the big crucial things, but it also needs artist and dreamers to make it wonderful.

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