The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Lizzy and the Cloud

I am so excited; I just had to do "an off day" review! The Fan Brothers released another stunning book this Tuesday (5/3/2022). I think like their other books, this one will (and should) win awards. I am so glad I stumbled onto it and I couldn't wait until I have an opening to share it. This book captures your heart and leaves you thinking about it long after you close the cover. It is a stunningly illustrated, subtly thought-provoking, whimsical picture book about a girl and her pet cloud.


Lizzy and the Cloud


Author/Illustrator: Terry Fan & Eric Fan


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2022)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction



Themes:

Change, letting go, responsibility, and pets.


Synopsis:

From the critically acclaimed, award-winning creators of Ocean Meets Sky and The Night Gardener comes a whimsical and sweet tale of a young girl who cares for her pet cloud as it grows. It’s a little out of fashion to buy a pet cloud, but Lizzy doesn’t mind. She’s not looking for a big one or a fancy one, just one that’s right for her. And she finds it in Milo. Soon, she’s taking Milo out on walks with her family, watering Milo right on schedule, and seeing Milo grow and grow. But what happens when her pet cloud gets too big for Lizzy to handle?


Opening Lines:

It was Saturday.

Every Saturday, Lizzy went

for a walk with her parents.


What I LOVED about this book:

Oh my gosh. I fell in love with that cover! And truth be told, I've never met a Fan Brothers book I haven't fallen head-over-heels for. Imagine, a cloud on a string and a shared, mini rainbow with the girl! Subtly colored in greys and yellows against a soft, blue-grey background. The minimal color scheme continues on the first spread, where the only color is Lizzy's bright yellow galoshes and her subtly pink cheeks. As with all of Terry and Eric's books, the numerous details in the graphite illustrations make the reader slow down to look, marvel, and ponder over their phenomenal talent and the portions they choose to color digitally.

Text & Image © Terry Fan and Eric Fan, 2022.


Then, with the turn of the page, we are transported back in time to a community park with an organ grinder and his monkey and a "Punch & Judy" puppet show. As "Lizzy ran straight for the Cloud Seller." That's right, instead of a balloon seller, this umbrella-hat clad vendor is selling clouds on strings. His yellow rain gear (on an otherwise sunny day) stands out; but his clouds do tend to puddle. Interestingly, Lizzy and her parents also stand out - dressed for sprinkles with touches of bright yellow. And we discover that her glorious bushy hair is red.

Text & Image © Terry Fan and Eric Fan, 2022.


Although clouds "were a bit out of fashion these days," the vendor had remarkable ones. An elephant, parrot, fish, and an octopus. But Lizzy chose an ordinary, fluffy, circular one. In glorious Fan Brothers style, the following wordless spread of the family walking home with their cloud is a treat to linger on, with its radio store, corner newspaper boy, old model car and bicycle, and oranges for 1 cent. Reinforcing a time period long ago (or perhaps far away).


Back home, Lizzy names the cloud Milo and carefully reads the care instructions. I loved the humor! Since "rainfall can be unpredictable," one should keep a bucket under young rainclouds! And clouds can be moody & prone to thunderstorms - especially if they feel cramped. There are times where it subtly feels like Milo is a stand-in for a pet, a new sibling, or even a kid itching to explore the world. Yet at the same time, simply a wonderfully imaginative premise of having one's own pet cloud.


As time passes, Milo grows bigger, sharing Lizzy's life through the seasons. We are treated to some exquisite spreads, especially when Milo goes on a family trip to the beach. But eventually, Milo fills Lizzy's entire ceiling and, cramped, throws a monster of a thunderstorm tantrum. After a little soul-searching - and a palette change from the greys to sepia & pink tones - Lizzy takes Milo to the roof.

Text & Image © Terry Fan and Eric Fan, 2022.


The ending is inevitable, we can't hold onto anything past its time - here again one wonders if Milo is a stand-in (death, moving out or away, or somethings (wild animals) should never be pets). But it's also uniquely focused, hugely satisfying, and intriguing. Avoiding a sacdhrine, "all is right with the world," ending, Terry and Eric show Lizzy remaining hopeful and loving, as she comes to terms with the changes. It is a stunning, whimsical yet familiar, timeless tale of love, acceptance of change, and learning to let go.


Resources:

- make your own cloud (experiment), (craft), or (stick puppet).

- do you know the ten types of clouds? See (here) and (here). Make your own "Cloud Spotter". What kind of cloud do you think Milo is?


- can you think of an unusual pet? Make a "Caring For Your ______" list like Lizzy's. What is the most important one to remember for your pet? Why would this make a good pet?

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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