The Cloud Story | Elliot A. Herland


The Cloud Story by Elliot A. Herland and illustrated by Kaitlyn J. Marquardt

Out now from Halo Publishing International; 31 pages

About the Author: “Author Elliot A. Herland lives in Rosemount, Minnesota, with his wife Julie. They enjoy an empty nester lifestyle with their four adult children. Theirs is a blended family, each bringing two children into the mix. All four kids grew up hearing The Cloud Story at bedtime. The story wasn’t written. It was made up as a bedtime breathing meditation that continued until sleep arrived. Each night, Elliot used the same story line of releasing the stresses of the day by drifting on a cloud. Only the story’s details changed. This attorney-mediator-meditator used his creative imagination to negotiate his kids to sleep” (Bio From The Cloud Story).

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About the Illustrator: Illustrator Kaitlyn J. Marquardt is a successful graphic designer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Katy graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design. She grew up as the youngest in this blended family. Art and design have afforded Katy the ability to freely express herself and better understand the world. This is her first children’s book; what began as a passion project between stepdad and stepdaughter grew into a beautifully crafted story” (Bio From The Cloud Story). 

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“Remember. Take a deep breath.”

Bedtime can certainly be a stressful time when there are little ones in your life, and this seems to be a difficulty that author Elliot A. Herland has reckoned with. A story created by Herland to help his children calm down at bedtime, The Cloud Story is a picturesque journey that takes readers through sweeping meadows, lush forests, and the expansive blue sky. The book even contains breathing cues dispersed throughout its pages to lull readers into a meditative state. The story follows the tradition of reposeful bedtime stories like Goodnight Moon by Margret Wise Brown or Peace At Last by Jill Murphy.

The Cloud Story intends to plunge its audience into this tranquil journey as if they are truly a part of it, and so the readers are referred to directly in phrases like, “Sleep slowly closes our eyes” or “Hold your breath! Okay, now you can let it out.” I feel that this direct address approach makes for a more immersive story. The illustrations follow two young children, in place of the readers, as they encounter the various flora and fauna. Leaning into the peaceful tone of the story, the illustrations are not particularly busy from page to page. Rather, readers may notice that the visuals are kept quite simplistic. This is a creative choice that I initially found to be surprising, but I ultimately feel that the simplicity of the imagery suits the meditative voice of the book. The bareness on the page may call the young readers to search inward and find the described imagery in their own imagination. Additionally, I’d say that though these illustrations are simplistic, they are undoubtedly charming, calming, and visually appealing. The Cloud Story certainly achieves what it sets out to do: to relax its readers with soothing imagery in a way that is digestible to a young audience. Discovering this book has taken me back to the days I spent frequently working as a babysitter for various family friends. It was a time in which I certainly wish I’d had this book to make bedtime an easier process. I can imagine how such a story might do a world of good for parents and little ones alike when bedtime becomes a stressor.

PRR Writer, Brooke Gorman