Archie’s Cloud tells the story of Archie, a belligerent boy on a brave and sometimes painful quest to a more peaceful life and stronger relationships. It is aimed at 5–8 year olds.
The book starts with Archie carrying a mysterious bundle on a long, hard journey home. His bundle in heavy, and it wriggles and squeals, refusing to be put down, yet Archie has no idea what’s inside it or why he’s stuck with it. He quickly reveals himself as an impulsive, fiery child with few friends. He’s often overcome by rage and self-pity, and is endlessly in trouble at home and school. On every page, Archie is faced with a choice: to continue with his troubled behaviour and remain lonely and frustrated, or to take a fresh approach to the social situations he finds so challenging, and be rewarded with a more joyful, vibrant life.
A few lines into the story, Archie finds himself at a fork in the road where he’s invited to leave the dull, familiar road he’s lumbering along and enter a magical kingdom where friendship and happiness are possibilities but nothing is guaranteed. He bravely opts to enter the new kingdom, and here he meets four wise souls—a rhino, an owl, a donkey and a rabbit. The animals help him unpack his bundle and study the contents one item at a time. With each examination, Archie learns something important about himself and about managing his stormy feelings and outbursts. Each item (dice, a cake, a ball and a music CD) represents a behavioural issue (called a worry in the story), and only by learning to observe each issue with clarity and honesty can Archie grow and move on. One at a time, Archie’s contemplated worries lose their solidity and drift towards the sky, where they merge with a white cloud that bobs overhead.
Each of Archie’s new animal friends recounts a story from their own childhood, showing Archie how they too suffered as impulsive youngsters but eventually learned new behavioural patterns, making life easier and calmer. The animals prompt Archie to reflect on the parallels between their stories and his. They share strategies with him for handling each issue more constructively, and Archie agrees to give these a try.