Rising from flames,
Controlled or untamed –
we see and smell smoke.
This picturebook ably shows the many ways that people use smoke: to preserve foods, to banish pests, in religious ceremonies, for healing.
Interestingly, smoke narrates its own story, saying “I lack a mouth, but I can speak” as it reminds us that smoke signals were used in China as well as by Native Americans of the Plains and Southwest.
Smoke explains that it is part of a cycle – it adds its water vapor to rain, its carbon dioxide nourishes leaves that can transform smoke into wood, which someday may again become smoke.
For the earth-toned artwork, the artist held paper over smoky candles, then added details with watercolors and digital enhancements – another way to use smoke!
Fascinating back notes tell more about each page-spread’s short, lyrical text.
What is your happiest memory of smoke?
Book info: I Am Smoke / Henry Herz; illustrated by Merce Lopez. Tilbury House Publishers, 2021. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.