Eoin Colfer and Chris Judge
This story is inspired by events in the family life of Chris Judge, the book’s illustrator.
Young Erin’s favourite game is spotting animals in the clouds with her mum and dad and friends. She sees all kinds from cats to crocodiles and snowball polar bears to puff-less dragons. She calls them her cloud babies.
One day, Erin is very ill and has to spend a considerable length of time in the children’s hospital. She’s made to feel very welcome, is looked after with loving care by doctors and nurses and makes lots of friends. Even in hospital Erin takes delight in playing cloud babies with her new friends and either personally or remotely, with her dad.
Eventually Erin is thrilled to be discharged from hospital but learns from the doctor that she will still need to have further “Hospital days”
Rather apprehensively she returns to school but things have changed considerably and Erin, now six, is sad to find that people there don’t share her imaginative interpretations of clouds. Indeed that comforting world she’d built and become used to in hospital feels distant and unfamiliar; moreover she decides that cloud babies aren’t for her any longer. It’s SO difficult to feel a part of either her hospital friends’ or her school friends’ group.
However her loving, empathetic parents don’t give up on those cloud babies and with their guidance and support from her class teacher and classmates, Erin comes to understand that through sharing her world and her cloud babies, she will find joy in being her true self again.
This story is written with great warmth and sensitivity by Eoin Colfer who has also included a special letter to readers at the front of the book. Chris Judge’s art is a skilful fusion of photographic images and vibrant illustration that blend children’s unlimited imaginative powers with the day to day world of a children’s hospital. No mean feat and the end result is an upllifting book that offers great help and comfort both to children faced with illness and to the adults who share their lives.
I would love to see Cloud Babies in all children’s hospital wards and doctors’ surgeries.