The Man in the Clouds
By Koos Meinderts
Illustrated by Annette Fienieg
The mountain had always been there. The man in the clouds appeared seemingly out of nowhere, to make his home in the house on the mountain that had always been there, and made a life on the mountain as though he had always been there.
It’s such a simple tale, simply told. The man has not much more than a painting depicting a world of great beauty–”this is what it must have looked like when the world began.” The villagers hear of it, and make the climb to see the painting, and to visit with the man. He welcomes them all, the hale and hearty, the old, the broken, the rejected.
The villagers bring him small gifts. Give and take–a community grows. Into this peaceful Eden comes a man from the city who has heard of the painting. He tells the man in the cloud that the painting could make him a very rich man. Oh no! Greed enters the story, and distrust. No longer are the villagers welcome to his house.
This is a story that begs for discussions with young readers. It is written at a third grade level so young readers can understand the tale. Read it aloud and then ask your listeners what they think of the man in the clouds. Ask them to narrate the story. At the point where the man locks and boards up his house, ask what they think about it. Why did he do that? Did that make him happy? What happens next? How does the story end?
The illustrations are beautifully detailed without being overwhelming. There is the old-fashioned shaving brush and razor blade, his morning ablutions, the villagers walking the crooked path up the mountain. Even as with the words, the picture portrays the sense of community. But the painting is a mystery shown only as a side view.
A beautifully told parable that reminds the readers of what is really important in life and what just seems to be.
About the author: http://www.letterenfonds.nl/en/author/121/koos-meinderts
Translated from the Dutch by Claudius Translations, Dave Cooper and Vincent Janssen Steenberg