Something About the Sky

Illustrator: Nikki McClure

Binding: Hardcover

Imprint: Candlewick Press

Age 5+

Children's & Young Adult: General Non-Fiction

Cut-paper wizard Nikki McClure is a brilliant steward for the words of a pioneering environmentalist in this wondrous ode to clouds—and the scientific “language of the sky.”

Rachel Carson once wrote, “It is not half so important to know as to feel.” What do we know about clouds? There are three basic types: stratus, cumulus, and cirrus. Some are fleecy and fair-weathered while others portend storms. But clouds are more than pretty or ominous backdrops. They’re the vehicle of water between sea and land, land and sea, in a cycle without end or beginning. They are the writing of the wind on the sky, a language all their own. An illustrator note explains the origins of Rachel Carson’s shimmering essay—previously unpublished in its entirety—and the process of adapting it to picture book format, as well as how the author of Silent Spring forever changed the way we think about science and progress. Bringing the soft edges of clouds and the natural world to vivid life with a new, more fluid approach to her signature cut-paper technique, Nikki McClure inspires true emotional engagement with the world we all share. An antidote to “get your head out of the clouds,” this art-meets-science tribute to curiosity and wonder is a gift for daydreamers and nature lovers of all ages.


Rachel Carson (1907–1964) spent most of her professional life as a marine biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. By the late 1950s, she had written three lyrical, popular books about the sea, including the best-selling The Sea Around Us, and had become the most respected science writer in America. Her book Silent Spring helped shape a powerful social movement that has altered the course of history.

Nikki McClure is a self-taught cut-paper artist renowned for her calendars and her highly acclaimed picture books for children, including Old Wood Boat. Outspoken about living well and responsibly with the earth, she makes her home in Olympia, Washington.


Carson’s quietly eloquent essay offers a stirring mix of natural observations and insights. . . . the illustrator creates misty, evocative cloudscapes behind and above views of seas and mountains in various weathers and seasons, as well as spare glimpses of human figures diverse in terms of age, with skin the color of the page, mostly with inward gazes. Overall, the effect is solemn, stately…bound to leave readers in a meditative mood. Contemplative and stirring—definitely for wonderers.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Images inspired, per a creator’s note, by the ever-changing forms of cloud and sky engage with the text’s precision while adding warmth and vividness via scenes of people experiencing the world’s wonders. It’s a fitting jumping-off place from which to contemplate “the writing of the wind on the sky”—and continue noticing the natural world.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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