Dark Cloud

Kids Can. May 2023. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781525306570.
PreS-Gr 2–Small acts of kindness penetrate a little girl’s dark cloud of depression and anxiety. Abigail is accompanied by a dark cloud wherever she goes. She doesn’t know where it came from; it just appeared one day. The ball of worries follows her to school. The swirl of fog keeps her from dancing ballet. The long shadow takes away her appetite. A yellow bow from her father, sitting next to a friend on a bench, reading a book, or playing at the beach shrinks the darkness down in size. The cloud still follows her, but Abigail learns to accept it (and herself). There are even days where she’s able to step outside of it. This thoughtful exploration of depression and anxiety puts to words the emotions that children may be experiencing but just can’t express yet. The text never talks down to its audience, and in spare language, gives adults tools to address these emotions with kids. Neville-Lee’s palette is a muted gray, black, and white when Abigail’s dark cloud looms large. However, the mixed-media illustrations brighten when she starts to see glimpses of happiness, beginning with the pop of yellow in her bow, then the light blue of the library book, and the pistachio green of her ice cream at the beach. Once she embraces the dark cloud as part of her identity, it starts to shrink, and the pages explode with gardens full of colors and butterflies.
VERDICT Perfect for SEL shelves and curriculum, this sensitive picture book is highly recommended for caregivers and educators working with young children.

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