________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 26. . . .March 11, 2016


A Boy Asked the Wind.

Barbara Nickel. Illustrated by Gillian Newland.
Markham, ON: Red Deer Press, 2015.
40 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-889-95480-9.

Subject Headings:
Weather-Juvenile fiction.
Winds-Juvenile fiction.
Travel-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Linda Ludke.

***½ /4



“Papagayo! Papagayo’s come
to churn this water, mix the shallow
warm with deeper cold.” So the boy followed
the warm downswirling, cold upflowing,
seething, rolling, swelling, howling
paths Papagayo stirred,
where algae bloomed like tiny stars
from feasting on cold water’s stores
of healthy food.


In this poetic picture book, a young boy (inspired by Barbara Nickel’s own inquisitive son) wonders where the wind lives. The wind “hummed” and “hammered” and answered the child’s question by taking him on a whirlwind journey around the world. Blowing across the Canadian prairies, the warm wind is called Chinook and “whistle[s] spring into the land”. Always on the move, the wind howls across water and turns into fierce Papagayo gales. As it gusts up South Africa’s Table Mountain, it becomes the Cape Doctor, beneficially “moisten[ing] the air to green the slopes” and clearing away smog and pollution. Settling over Iraq, the Shamal wind kicks up a dust storm amidst gun fire and bomb blasts, poignantly reflecting, “I’m hit each time they fire through me, the moving air … but can they divide me like the land?” As the fury and ferocity of the wind lessens, it comes full circle, returning the boy home on a gentle, Zephyr breeze.

internal art

     Gillian Newland’s watercolour illustrations vividly capture the changing personality of the wind, as well as the very different landscapes. Wispy puffs of warm air swirl around a herd of bison on one spread while billowing clouds and twirling lines acrobatically snatch hats and send balloons skyward on the next. The warzone scenes are drenched in sepia tones and are hauntingly splattered with ink.

internal art

      End notes provide further information about the five winds explored. A map and a glossary also add further food for thought. As an award-winning poet, Barbara Nickel brings a sophisticated, nuanced elegance to the text, making A Boy Asked the Wind more than merely a study in meteorology. There are many evocative images that will stay with the reader, such as scattered flower petals likened to a “breath of peace to a cheek”, and the wind’s final explanation: “Remember... one wind with many voices, one wind with many faces. My home is the world.”

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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