Kellie Byrnes (text), Anne-Marie Finn (illus.), Cloud Conductor, Wombat Books, 1 May 2018, 32pp., $24.99 (Hbk), ISBN: 9781925563344
Frankie is a busy, adventurous little girl and a scientist in the making. She’s brave and bright and enjoys coming up with inventions. There are also moments when she likes to simply sit and watch the clouds. Frankie’s vivid imagination shape-shifts the clouds into different objects, and she can almost feel the weather around her; she closes her to listen to ‘melodies only she could hear’. The clouds seem to move with Frankie’s imagination.
In the spring, Frankie listens to the gentle wind and breathes in the scent of the flowers. When summer arrives, ‘the heat almost stole the breath from Frankie’ and she is admitted to hospital. From her hospital bed, Frankie lets her vivid imagination transport her to different places, like a beautiful beach in the summertime and a glorious park in the autumn.
From her hospital room, Frankie watches the clouds take on different shapes, which allows her precious moments of escape. When her family visit, Frankie shares the clouds with them, and the family lovingly watch the clouds through the window together.
This is a clever and deeply touching story. It’s also multi-layered; while exploring the weather and the different seasons, we also take a journey with a brave and resilient little girl whose imagination allows her to see the bright side of a difficult and lonely situation.
The illustrations are as powerful as the story, capturing an array of different kinds of weather, from the darkest of storm clouds, to the brilliant red hues of Autumn.
This book would make a lovely gift for a child who is unwell, at home or in hospital. It’s a reminder of how memory and imagination can transport you to happier times, that the world is a wondrous, mysterious and beautiful place, and that there is always a silver lining.
Reviewed by Melinda Allan