2016 in [Book] Review Books Picture Books Poetry Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] An Odyssey of Billowing White in Argueta and Ruano’s “We Are Like The Clouds”

poetry friday

Myra here.

I am glad to be joining the Poetry Friday community again this week, hosted by the Mother of #DiverseKidLit, Katie of The Logonauts.


There were quite a number of astounding picturebooks published last year, and we thought it is a good way of catching up on these titles by devoting the first two months of the year on featuring the best of the best in books in 2016.


We Are Like The Clouds | Somos Como Las Nubes

Written by: Jorge Argueta Illustrated by: Alfonso Ruano Translated by: Elisa Amado
Published by: Groundwood Books, 2016 ISBN: 1554988497 (ISBN13: 9781554988495)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

I have always been moved by the stories of refugees, immigrants, sanctuary-seekers. When I saw this book shared in the Facebook page of Jama Rattigan last year, I knew I couldn’t wait for it to be available in our libraries and that I have to purchase a copy for my research project on building a multicultural database for teachers.


I am also familiar with Alfonso Ruano’s art as I enjoyed his illustrations in The Composition (written by Antonio Skarmeta). In this book, though, he proverbially pulled out all the stops as each image is breathtaking and laden with drifting memories and infused with longing and pathos. I was especially taken by Argueta’s Author’s Note whereby he described what inspired him to create this book:

This collection of poems describes the odyssey that thousands of boys, girls and young people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico undertake when they flee their countries because of extreme poverty and fear of violence. They abandon everything in hope of a better life.

I wrote these poems based on my experiences of working with these young people in El Salvador as well as in the United States. I have been able to share their experiences and listen to their testimonies.

I believe that it takes a different level of empathy bounded up by connectedness to transform evidently-painful experiences to something as transient and incandescent as floating clouds, offering a form of release through verse, which is what Argueta accomplished in this collection of poems. I also loved reading the bilingual poems aloud in Spanish, a language I studied when I was a college undergraduate and which my paternal grandmother spoke fluently as part of her native tongue.

For my Poetry Friday offering, I thought of sharing this lovely poem entitled We Sing found in this beautiful collection that should definitely be part of your library.


May you sing away your exhaustion, Poetry Friday friends, until your “fear becomes a song.”

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

8 comments on “[Poetry Friday] An Odyssey of Billowing White in Argueta and Ruano’s “We Are Like The Clouds”

  1. Thank you for sharing about this book… you selected the same poem I did to share!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love hearing your thoughts about this book, Myra. I think Jorge did a beautiful job of handling a difficult and painful subject, while offering hope for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing. I am amazed at how art and poetry can transform such painful experiences into beauty that calls us to empathize. The world needs even more of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Let’s sing away fear and hatred. Sing for hope and believing in love. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That last poem honestly gave me goosebumps. My grandfather was a teenage refugee, and the experience haunted him for the rest of his life. These children need our help and our love, not our fear or our judgement. I look at the happy children I work with, and I can’t imagine them having to go through such harrowing experiences. How wonderful that poets are sharing these stories and raising awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You showed my favorite page there at the last, Myra. It just is heartbreaking to hear that little boy talk about the songs. Beautiful book.


  7. maryleehahn

    I just came from Amy LV’s admonition to love repeat love repeat love. Let’s add to that: sing repeat sing repeat sing.


  8. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Favourite Titles Across GatheringBooks’ 2017 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

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