Happiness is a cloud by Robert Vescio

cover image

Illus. by Nancy Bevington. Big Sky Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781922265715.
(Ages: 4-8) Harry and his Dad are having a day at the beach with their dog Jasper. It's a beautiful sunny day and Harry starts pointing out some things he can see in the clouds. 'Clouds make me hip-hip happy', he says. 'When we're happy everyone around us is happy', says his dad. Harry spends time blissfully observing the clouds, spotting sheep, flowers, birds and cats; but soon the clouds start to build and change colour. The darker clouds bring things that make him shiver: dragons and fierce rhinos. We see how Harry's mood reflects the clouds and he points out that happiness is like a cloud. Some moments are rainy and stormy and then these feelings roll on and we are floating along in the sunshine again. Harry doesn't like the rain and the unhappy dark clouds. 'Ah, but the dark ones carry a belly full of rain and hope' says Dad, pointing out the happiness rain brings to the natural world.
There is some beautiful imagery throughout the text ('Harry felt the happiness of the afternoon leak out of him like rain from the rhinoceros rain cloud') and the illustrations are an interesting combination of photographs and drawings that provide a realistic landscape. The clouds have been drawn in so we see what Harry sees in the sky, but they seem a little too overt, not leaving much to the imagination or encouraging children to stretch their own when looking for shapes in clouds.
Happiness is a Cloud provides a great visual representation of emotion and is lovely reminder for children that moods are not permanent and that we, as well as the people and world around us, can help bring happiness back. Themes: Emotions, Clouds.
Nicole Nelson