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The Clouds Are Having Lunch

A springtime neighborhood adventure celebrating wonder, curiosity and kindness.

Photo of Leanne Gehrig
4 3

Written by

The Clouds are Having Lunch


(A little girl and her mother are walking in their urban neighborhood. She is wearing animal-print rain boots, a green rain coat and carrying a bright yellow umbrella. Her mother is carrying a blue umbrella. The neighborhood fabric is made up of brick two-flats, bungalows and trees along the parkway. It is springtime and the sky is a brilliant blue.)

“Look! There are no clouds in the sky. 

They must be having lunch. 

The clouds will be back later.”

(They pause to watch a fire truck rush by along the street.)

The little girl exclaims, “The red fire truck is going fast! 

“It must be going to help someone,” says her mother. 

(The little girl gazes up; there are still no clouds in the sky.)

(They continue walking and pass the mailman. He is also holding a blue umbrella.)

They greet hello. He is carrying a large satchel bag of letters and parcels. 

“He has a blue umbrella. Just like you, Mom!” 

(One of the letters drops on the sidewalk; the little girl helps to pick it up.)

(They continue walking down the street. A yellow school bus and a white delivery truck zoom past. They pause to watch some robins search for worms on the nearby grass.)

(The little girl gazes up; there are still no clouds in the sky.)

(They arrive at the library. Her mother opens the door for an elderly neighbor. It begins to drizzle). 

(The library is busy: a man is reading a newspaper, a family is checking-out books, a librarian is helping someone at the computer and children are playing together in the children’s section. The rain picks up. Some of the children go to a window to watch the rain.)

“I want a book about birdies. And bugs! Will you help me, Mom?” 

(They check-out their library treasures. And walk across the street for a snack – both opening up their umbrellas.)

(The coffee shop is by a bus stop and the little girl eats a cookie, watching the cars and searching for city buses. Her mother sips a cup of coffee. They watch the rain.)

(They walk home, holding umbrellas. The little girl jumps in puddles. The rain slowly stops and the sun comes out again. White clouds appear in the sky.)

“Look! The clouds are back in the sky and the rain stopped.” 

“They must be done having lunch.” 

(End illustration: the little girl is sitting at a small table, by a picture window, drawing a picture about their day’s adventure. She gives the drawing to her dad.) 

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

A springtime neighborhood adventure celebrating wonder, curiosity and kindness. To engage young children, the story book uses visual imagery, quiet exchanges between child and parent/caregiver and features familiar urban scenes, sights & sounds.

Share your suggested book title

The Clouds Are Having Lunch

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

“Look! There are no clouds in the sky. They must be having lunch. The clouds will be back later.” / The little girl exclaims, “The red fire truck is going fast! “It must be going to help someone,” says her mother. / “He has a blue umbrella. Just like you, Mom!” / “I want a book about birdies. And bugs! Will you help me, Mom?” / “Look! The clouds are back in the sky and the rain stopped. They must be done having lunch.”

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

The book provides a simple plot with a beginning, middle and end. The manuscript has few words, however they largely come from the Tier 1 and 2 vocabulary list. The structure of the story itself was informed by my toddler daughter's curiosity and interest in the world around her. Toddlers, by nature, can be a bit repetitive in their habits, language and activities. I tried to frame familiar and repetitive springtime themes.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I have lived in the city of Chicago for the last fifteen years; and the last three as a stay-at-home parent. Though not Philadelphia itself, I am familiar with the lived experiences of families living in an urban context. The illustration narrative at the start of the story describes a typical neighborhood environment here on the north-west side of Chicago (brick 2-flats, Chicago bungalows, diverse and intergenerational neighbors, city streets with different vehicles buzzing by and trees along the parkway).

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

Leanne Gehrig (Author) Brad Gehrig (Illustrator) Brad spends most of his days putting his architectural education to good use by drawing buildings. At night he is often found in his studio working on a variety of different projects including drawing, painting and designing board games. Leanne is also trained as an architect; with a focus in community engagement and revitalization. She is currently a stay-at-home parent. Her passions include sustainability, paper arts, visiting the art museum and hiking. Wren enjoys drawing, painting, visiting the library, being outdoors & exploring and eating cookies at the coffee shop. She is 3 yrs old.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Leanne (Author) has not been published before; Brad (Illustrator) has a self-published coloring book available via Amazon.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dawnnbooks .

Nicely done.
Good luck to us all.

Photo of Leanne Gehrig


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