Cloud conductor by Kellie Byrnes

cover image

Ill. by Ann-Marie Finn. Wombat Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925563344
(Age: 3-6) Highly recommended. Themes: Imagination, Seasons, Sick children. "Cloud Conductor" is a beautifully expressive story, filled with messages of hope, courage in adversity and the power of the imagination to bring happiness.
Frankie is a busy girl, full of life; she loves to ride her bike, play with her neighbourhood friends and inventing incredible things. 'Sometimes, though Frankie loves to just sit and watch the clouds.' Her imagination takes flight and she conducts cloud symphonies, listening to the loud roars of the thunderous clouds. When Frankie's dark days come and she falls sick, even while resting in bed Frankie conducts cloud symphonies.
Through her window she observes the seasons changing, spring brings blooming flowers and a playful dog playing in the white fluffy clouds. In her darkest moments she creates beautiful images of shimmering waves and children splashing in the shallows. Frankie visualises a courageous cowgirl riding in the autumn sky. As the season changes, she lays in her hospital bed and seeks inspiration and comfort from the wintry sky. This young girl is truly inspirational giving hope to other sick children, teaching them to become cloud conductors too.
Kellie Byrnes lyrical story conjures up imaginative word pictures, her alliterative and descriptive phrases are a delight to read aloud. Anne-Marie Finn's layered illustrations combine cartoon sketches with bold outlines, layered on photos of grass, sky and everyday objects. She seamlessly captures the emotive text, transforming the sky scenes into Frankie's cloud symphonies. Using seasonal tones she portrays the autumn scenes in red and gold hues and adds delicate whites and blues for the summer's day. Even on the darkest days, she paints Frankie with her arms uplifted conjuring up the lightning storm.
"Cloud Conductor" is full of courage, an inspiring story that stirs up a child's imagination. Frankie's resilience and her ability to rise above her illness is an important message. Students and families will enjoy becoming cloud conductors, using their imagination to create their own stories and to find hope even in difficult times.
Rhyllis Bignell