Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld is a great story time read. Lichtenheld's bright, crisp illustrations are perfectly matched to his cheerful story about a little cloud who wants to do something big. As Travis Jonker said in his review at 100 Scope Notes, Cloudette "isn't cloying, it isn't didactic - it's just a little book about self determination that works. In the end, Cloudette is perfectly pleasant, and that's not a bad thing to be." It is much, much harder than you would think to write a book of this nature and NOT be didactic or cloying, and for that alone Cloudette deserves to be read. And, chances are, if you read it once you will inevitably be drawn to pick it up again. There is something irresistible about Cloudette.
I think what makes Cloudette so lovable is that she doesn't mind being little. Lichtenheld spends the first part of the book pointing out all the great things about being the small cloud when all the other clouds are big, from the cool nicknames to being able to always find a good spot to watch the fireworks from. Cloudette doesn't set out to do something big, but she does want to help out the way she sees the bigger clouds helping the world below. When a storm blows her into a new neighborhood and she sees a frog in need, she finds a way to make a difference, even a small difference.
I wasn't able to add very many of Lichtenheld's superb illustrations here, but watching the book trailer for Cloudette is the next best thing. It's short and cute, just like Cloudette!
Here are a few more very fun picture books illustrated by
I was first introduced to Tom Lichtenheld's art work when I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Duck! Rabbit!, which made my Best Picture Books of 2009 list.
The book trailer is definitely worth a minute or two of your time!
Finally, Lichtenheld has most recently worked with Chris Barton on the brilliant Shark vs Train, which made many Best of 2010 lists.
The premise of this book is excellent. Two boys meet at the toy box and each selects a toy. One shark. One train. The battle is on! Who is better? Depends on the battle, which plays out over and over with flip-flopping winners and losers, until the boys are called away from their contest - just as things are about to get really crazy. The illustrations below show one challenge that Train can win (roasting marshmallows) and another that Shark can win (bowling.)