Reviewed by Lucy Timmons
Cloud Boy sees Angie Moon, the protagonist of the story, chronicling her best friendship and ‘almost-twinship’ with Harry Christmas through her diary. The tagline of the book is ‘A best friend stays with your forever’. Well, this book stays with you forever.
Each day in the book reveals the closeness and magic only present in true friendship. Angie and Harry have the best friendship every child and every adult craves. Born in the same hospital, they have grown up together, and the story meets the pair on the event of Angie’s birthday. We do not know their age, but we can assume it’s late primary age. Their dads are building them a treehouse which will be known as ‘Artcloud’ due to Angie’s love of painting clouds and Harry’s, very impressive, knowledge and passion for clouds. The cloud motif resonates throughout the moving tale of the ups and downs of their friendship, providing a slight hint to the mood of the diary entry.
Mirroring the turbulent and testing tale of Angie and Harry’s friendship is the parallel, historical story of Grandma Gertie. Gertie’s story is based on the true story that inspired the book about Olga Morris, who was incarcerated in Changi Jail in Japan as a prisoner of war. During this time, Olga and another group of Girl Guides created a patchwork quilt which went on to be displayed in the V&A museum.
Central to the emotive pull of this story is this theme of resilience in the face of adversity and the power and strength that can be gained from true friendship. Angie’s childish reactions are relatable for any young reader and are important to explore and understand in terms of the challenges young people can and do face. Gertie is a symbol of survival and overcoming the cruelty humans are capable of inflicting on each other. Humour is prevalent throughout adding a lightness to the challenging plot. Oppression and loss are explored in this book, making it more suitable for upper juniors. Most importantly, the young reader does remain in a universe of hope and intrigue into the white puffs above our heads and the stories they too can tell
Cloud Boy would serve as a gift for a whole class read or a core text for English planning in terms of the themes. A definite essential for any decent class library.