A Cloud in a Jar Author Interview and Giveaway

Wednesday, October 4, 2023


A Cloud in a Jar

Written by Aaron Lewis Krol

Illustrated by Carlos Vélez Aguilera

Ages 4+ | 32 Pages

Publisher: Pages Street Kids | ISBN-13: 9781645679936

Publisher’s Book Summary: It’s just after midnight on Walton Wharf West, but there’s no time for sleeping―adventure awaits! Get dressed, grab your oars, let’s not delay. Lou Dozens is here, and we’re sailing to Firelight Bay!

In this modern, young, bold, and inventive adventure, Lou drags her more cautious friend on a daring voyage across the sea. Though their destination is a glorious land of year-round summers, long slides, and picnics a hundred yards wide, the children there have never seen rain, even once.

The mission is simple: bring Firelight Bay a cloud in a jar. But the journey is anything but. Readers will delight in the story’s twists, turns, and unexpected solutions―from a sail of patchwork handkerchiefs to a net crafted from recycled cell phone chargers that saves a beached whale. It’ll take every knick-knack in Lou’s pockets and all the cleverness the pair can muster to safely deliver their gift.

With captivating illustrations and whimsical yet delightfully intricate rhyming text reminiscent of classic children’s poetry, this seafaring quest is one young readers will not soon forget.

Available for purchase on Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes and Noble.


Aaron Lewis Krol lives with his family in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he writes about climate change science and solutions for the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative. Like many, his early education included many “invention challenges” where students were tasked with building structures from everyday materials, and he’s pretty sure that’s where the idea for Lou Dozens came from. A Cloud in a Jar is his first picture book.


Carlos Vélez Aguilera lived in the oceanside town of Puerto Vallarta for a time and drew from his memory of those beautiful landscapes and the sense of adventure they gave him while illustrating this book. He also poured in his general love of clouds, the sea, and whales. In addition to drawing, Carlos also likes to dance. He lives in Mexico City, Mexico, with his cat, Benito.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write A Cloud in a Jar?

Aaron Lewis Krol - I wasn’t expecting to write a picture book! I just got a first verse stuck in my head—ultimately not even the first verse that appears in the published book:

We left in a rowboat, Lou Dozens and me,
And Salman the cat, who was leading the way
(With his chin in a kerchief to fend off the spray
Because cats like their whiskers kept dry)—
Through the whispering waters of Tangerine Bay
To the sun-speckled Island of Spry.

I liked it. I wondered what kind of person Lou Dozens was. Maybe she had dozens of little household objects secreted in her coat. Paperclips, hair ties, things like that. If they got in trouble on this journey she could quick fashion them into little inventions that would help them keep going. Uh oh, I was somehow well on my way to writing a picture book.

Life Is What It's Called - What are the themes of A Cloud in a Jar, and why are they important?

Aaron Lewis Krol - In A Cloud in a Jar, the heroes get themselves out of trouble using their creativity and inventions until, eventually, they can’t—in the end they only get where they’re going by being kind and making the right friend at the right time. I’d like to think those are two very good ways for kids to see characters solving problems.

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers like most about A Cloud in a Jar?

Aaron Lewis Krol - What I like best are the illustrations—I’ve sat with the words for a few years now and they don’t hold any surprises for me anymore, but I’m still hooked on Carlos’ deep colors and striking perspectives and all the tiny imaginative details that fill every page. And man oh man can he draw a whale.

Life Is What It's Called - What input did you have when it came to the illustrations?

Aaron Lewis Krol - I am so glad that Page Street found Carlos to be my illustrator. As soon as I saw his portfolio I knew this book was going to look even better than it had in my head. I only gave him one instruction going in—in my original draft a cat had featured prominently in the story, but as I edited it down to a manageable picture book length I found I had too many characters and the cat had to go. But I loved the cat, so I asked Carlos to please include a cat joining the characters on their journey. Once Carlos drew him I loved the cat even more. I was invited to give feedback on every sketch and layout Carlos sent me, but almost always he surprised me with something better than I had imagined. If I wanted something adjusted, I would really just give him a couple of adjectives (can Walton Wharf West be more industrial? could the narrator’s hat look more like something a kid would think is dashing and adventurous?), and these fully imagined places and characters would come back to me. He was an absolute delight to work with.

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book different from others on the market?

Aaron Lewis Krol - The rhyme and meter! It’s getting a bit rarer to have rhymed stories for older picture book readers, and when they do get published they are overwhelmingly the same tetrametric couplets. (That’s the Dr. Suess rhyme scheme: “I would not eat them in a house, I would not eat them with a mouse.”) And hey, it’s a mainstay for a reason, and I enthusiastically read these books to my kids. But I also love the classic children’s poetry that stretched out a bit more, let kids appreciate different ways of hearing poetic rhythms. A Cloud in a Jar is a riff on ballad meter, which you know even if you don’t know you know it. (Think Lewis Carroll: “‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—of cabbages—and kings.’”) But I also tweaked it a little, to use triplet rhymes in a bit of an off-kilter order. My hope is that it sounds familiar, but not quite like anything else on your shelf.

Life Is What It's Called - Why do you think it's essential to have picture books that inspire adventure?

Aaron Lewis Krol - Isn’t it enough that kids love adventures? I mean, if adventure stories also inspire them to think they can solve problems themselves and travel widely and try new things and make unexpected friends in strange places, that’s all wonderful. But mostly I just think kids have these deep natural wells of imagination, and there’s nothing that taps into that better than a story where bizarre things can happen in a new and fantastical place, ideally with kids like them swept along for the ride.

Life Is What It's Called - What books are you working on next?

Aaron Lewis Krol - I’ve got a second picture book I’m shopping around called Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! set in a world of giants who fashion their clothes and household objects from enormous discarded things they find in the human world. Right now I’m sweating my way through a children’s novel based on different folktale traditions from around the world, which I’m pretty excited about although I should really not have taken on writing a novel while raising a four-year- old and a one-year-old!

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want readers to know about you as an author?

Aaron Lewis Krol - This is my fourth manuscript and the first one to be published. If you love writing, keep writing!


Enter for the chance to win a hardcover copy of A Cloud in a Jar!

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  • A hardcover copy of A Cloud in a Jar

A Cloud in a Jar Book Giveaway

This post is sponsored by Page Street Kids. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

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