The Boy, the Cloud and the Very Tall Tale

Orca. Sept. 2023. 280p. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781459836037.
Gr 4-7–It is 1924, and 11-year-old Ewan lives in a fishing village in Newfoundland with his seven-year-old sister, Flora, and Grumple, their grandfather. Ewan is grief-stricken after losing both of his parents. His mother died four years ago, and his heartbroken father disappeared two years later, but Ewan doesn’t believe Grumple’s explanation—that his father flew away on a cloud. Ewan sets off on a journey up the coast in search of his wayward father, taking along his grumpy cat Kipper, Flora, and Mr. So-and-So, purveyor of notions. While Flora abides by their father’s words of wisdom—all you need is a little know-how and whole lot of nerve—fearful Ewan is short on both. Mr. So-and-So possesses unpredictable magic and nonsensical notions, plus an alliterative smorgasbord of language. When the group, along with friendly carrier pigeon Grace, unearth the dastardly plan to steal sadness by leaving victims in a perpetual brain fog, they must find a way to rescue the stolen memories of all those affected. Fantastical details—Mr. So-and-So’s left trouser pocket never empties, a singing fish—bring some levity to the story’s darker elements. The post–World War I setting is revealed throughout with song and transportation references, such as the “Hurricle,” their horse-drawn carriage.
VERDICT With a mixture of fantasy and mystery, touches of humor, and heartwarming love, Smith has woven themes of strength and resilience into a powerful story that will stay with readers.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing