The Cloudspotter

Longlisted for the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award Picture Book Category

Book Title : The Cloudspotter

Author : Tom McLaughlin

Publisher : Bloomsbury

ISBN : 978-1408854976

This is a lovely, gentle story about the power of imagination and friendship. Franklin- the Cloudspotter- doesn't have many friends. He spends all his time looking at the sky and creating adventures with the shapes he can see in the clouds. A solitary child, he doesn't feel so alone when surrounded by his imaginings. 

Then, a dog arrives and, try as he might, Franklin can't stop the animal becoming part of his imaginary adventures. Having sent the dog away, Franklin suddenly realises that maybe things were better with two.

Perfect for sharing as a read aloud, this story offers plenty of possibilities for discussion and work in other areas. Why did Franklin think he was better off alone? Was living in his imagination really enough for him? Why did he send the dog away? For many children, the idea of having no friends will be difficult to comprehend; for others (sadly), it might be all too familiar. The book offers a way in to discussing these things and how to act when friendship is offered.

And who doesn't love cloudspotting? Gazing at the sky and creating stories from the clouds is something that I am sure children do not do enough! Having been encouraged to spot different shapes in the clouds, they can create stories to go with them, filling them with characters and creatures! They could be encouraged to look at pictures of clouds if the sky isn't obliging and describe them, creating word banks leading to poems for performing, enjoying and sharing. 

Children could create friendship balloons- either 2D with friendship words and phrases written on the patches (based on the balloon in the picture on the double spread) or 3D balloons (great chance for some papier mache work!) with words, phrases, pictures or their poems in the baskets hanging below. They could paint cloud pictures in watercolours or chalks- being taught the relevant skills as required.

There are also science and geography links that could be made- KS1: Seasonal Changes (Sc Y1) and weather patterns (geog) and KS2: States of Matter/ water cycle (Sc Y4).

At the end of the book, they are shown gazing at clouds shaped like planets and stars. The end paper then shows Franklin gazing through a telescope- could this be the next story about Franklin and his best friend, Dog?