Chuku has a new job as a junior artist with Creative Lights, Opticals, and Unusual Designs in the Sky, or C. L. O. U. D. S. His first assignment, considered safe but dull for a beginner, is to create skies over New York City where it's raining and smoggy, and people don't look up. He starts slowly, but when a little girl in the park notices his sky, Chuku is inspired to greater works. He's so good that he gets promoted, right out of the city. On his last day, he uses letters to tell the girl, Chrissy, ``Hello down there.'' Of course, using letters is strictly forbidden, and Chuku loses the promotion, to his delight. Cummings's artwork is fantastic and futuristic, in pinks, purples and blues, but the story is encumbered by a lot of unnecessary text. And Chuku's lot is ambiguous: do we admire someone who is content to stay in one place, or has he bucked the system out of an act of love? (3-7)
K-Gr 3 Cummings seems to be spoofing the business management sector of America, which will bring a smile to the faces of many adults but will also be above the heads of the book's intended audience. However, youngsters will relate to Cummings' unusual fantasy about a young man who lives in the heavens and designs the skies for a livelihood. Working for C.L.O.U.D.S. (Creative Lights, Opticals and Unusual Designs in the Sky), Chuku is assigned the unenviable job of designing the skies over New York City. Tall buildings, dirty air and the fact that nobody looks up makes his assignment the least desirable in the department. His use of brilliant colors and his flair for unique designs are quickly noticed by one young sky-gazing girl, whom he then strives to please. By the time his supervisor takes note and wants to promote him to a more desirable location, many in the city are taking note, and Chuku yearns to stay. Cummings uses a mixture of gouache, translucent watercolor, color pencil and air brush to produce brilliantly colored full-page illustrations. The text is framed in pink, setting it off from the illustrations. While the illustrations are of outstanding quality, young children will have some problems digesting the text without adult rephrasing. C.L.O.U.D.S. might be best utilized in a storytelling session, especially outdoors, with the presenter taking some liberties with the text. Tom S. Hurlburt, Anoka County Library, Blaine, Minn.