At the very face of it, One Dark Cloud is a Counting book. Counting books are quite important and interesting for young children in that they develop math and number awareness.
As a counting book, One Dark Cloud tackles a specific area- it is a counting book for a rainy day! So right from one dark cloud in the sky on a rainy day, to blankets and umbrellas and gum-boots, the author Shobha Viswanath incorporates a theme to the numbers. She gently weaves in the concepts of counting with the art of storytelling, building up to the essence of a rainy day.
The arty feel
While the concept and the counting that follows definitely delights the child, there is something else that makes this book special- the arty feel that the design brings with it. Illustrators Ashwathy P.S and Anusha Sunder have used a combination of art techniques in order to bring out a very arty and textured feel. Each number from one to ten is beautifully depicted on a jute mat. Lightly painted newspaper cut-outs in different shapes and sizes illustrate the city on a rainy day. The illustrations are a heady combination of collages, photography and design.
The design of the book is exceptional and it is these nuances that contribute to the enjoyment of the book. For example, in terms of content the objects which are to be counted generally assume more importance. The child has to identify these. Each object to be counted, such as the frogs, raindrops, umbrellas and so on are highlighted in their own special way since that they stand out against the backdrop of the page. Little details such as the steam from the samosas made of newspaper scraps or the clouds themselves which are a collage best described as a merry mishmash, could well be a good initiation into art appreciation!
The book has an Indian ethos in terms of design and content. Hence, tea and samosas also form a part of the rainy day list!
It is a timeless book that shows visual storytelling at its best. Much after the children have learned the numbers, they can still look at the book for its beautiful art. One Dark Cloud also makes for a good gift to an early reader.
Title: One Dark Cloud
Author: Shobha Viswanath
Illustrators: Ashwathy P.S and Anusha Sunder
Publisher: Karadi Tales, 2017