I Am Smoke by Henry Herz

Cover image for I Am Smoke.

I Am Smoke by Henry Herz, illustrated by Merce López (9780884487883)

Told in first person by smoke itself, this picture book celebrates the many ways in which smoke appears. It’s around every campfire, forming from burning branches into a mist of carbon dioxide, water vapor and ash. Smoke can be dangerous but it can also be helpful, used to warm seeds into germination. Smoke can clear insects out of structures and make bees sleepy. It can also communicate, used for centuries around the world to send signals and emerging from incense during religious ceremonies. It can flavor our foods and act as a medicine at times. It returns to earth when it rains, ready to feed the forests and then start the cycle again.

Told in simple sentences, this picture book also shares scientific information. In a book that can be used with small children, there are marvelous science details too that will inspire some children to look at smoke differently. The uses of smoke are shared on the pages, each one highlighted and celebrated as the book continues.

The illustrations capture the wonder of the campfire and other flames. What is done best though is the way that the smoke itself is depicted. Sometimes it reaches fingers onto the page, other times it fills the page with white vapors and still others it darkens the scene. The smoke is layered and full of movement, beautifully shown in each image.

A fiery look at smoke and its impact on our world. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Tilbury House Publishers.