Happiness is a Cloud, Robert Vescio (author), Nancy Bevington (illus.), Big Sky Publishing, May 2020.
Look up to the clouds and what do you see?
On a day out at the beach Harry discovers that feelings are just like the clouds… they change shape and roll on by.
And even on the cloudiest of days, the sun is waiting, ready to peek out and brighten our day!
Once again, Robert Vescio sweeps us up in his dreamy narrative that fills our hearts with puffs of happiness. Combined with Nancy Bevington’s mixed media art, Happiness is a Cloud is a picture book that represents warmth, light and hope – one that inspires an ease of drifting off into the imagination.
The special bond between a boy, Harry, and his Dad is reflected across the pages with the radiating warmth of Dad’s optimism to find the happiness within, even on the darkest of days. Through the metaphor of the changing shape and nature of the clouds during their time with their dog, Jasper, at the beach, emotions form and swiftly transfigure from floating, gentle happy pig, sheep and springtime-shaped clouds, to the more menacing rhino and fang-toothed ones. But despite Harry’s tentativeness about the gloomy, lonely masses of grey in the sky, it’s Dad who reminds him that rain is a symbol of life and hope, and happiness. I love this message that shines through Vescio’s text – that those dark days are just as important as the bright ones; in order for nature to thrive, and for our own personal, emotional growth as well. The emotive language used is equally captivating; blended with joyful play-on-words (‘diz-daz-dizzy’, ‘splish-splosh-splashy’), and similes to inspire more creative thinking (‘Harry felt the happiness of the afternoon leak out of him like rain…’).
And the illustrations. I thought it was just me being nostalgic and reminiscing on how mesmerised I felt watching the old ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’ back in the day. However, sharing this book with my 7-year-old proved illustrator Nancy Bevington’s pairing of the photographic backgrounds with the flawless infusion of her vivid line and watercolour characters completely enlighten the senses and enliven the imagination. We love how seamlessly her cloud shapes and extra detail add so much depth to the real-life scenery.
Happiness is a Cloud is literally heavenly. With its strong ties to nurturing our children’s resilience, mental health, and taking time to appreciate and find happiness in the world around us, this picture book will lift its early years readers to achieving new emotional heights. Highly recommended.
Review by Romi Sharp