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Children's Fiction Africa

In a Cloud of Dust

by (author) Alma Fullerton

illustrated by Brian Deines

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Mar 2015
Africa, Values & Virtues, Friendship
Recommended Age
4 to 8
Recommended Grade
k to 3
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2015
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


A celebration of bicycles, cooperation, and the resourcefulness of children everywhere

In a Tanzanian village school, Anna struggles to keep up. Her walk home takes so long that when she arrives, it is too dark to do her homework. Working through the lunch hour instead, she doesn’t see the truck from the bicycle library pull into the schoolyard. By the time she gets out there, the bikes are all gone. Anna hides her disappointment, happy to help her friends learn to balance and steer. She doesn’t know a compassionate friend will offer her a clever solution—and the chance to raise her own cloud of dust.

Brought to life by Brian Deines’ vivid oil paintings, Alma Fullerton’s simple, expressive prose captures the joy of feeling the wind on your face for the first time. Inspired by organizations like The Village Bicycle Project that have opened bicycle libraries all across Africa, In a Cloud of Dust is an uplifting example of how a simple opportunity can make a dramatic change in a child’s life.

"Soaked in warm golds and oranges, Deines's oil paintings glow with a sense of promise as the children race around the schoolyard on their bikes. Fullerton says quite a bit with few words in her verselike prose, and a detailed author's note discusses the vital role bicycles play in communities across Africa and supplies information about bicycle donation organizations."—Publishers Weekly

About the authors

Alma Fullerton is an award winning author- author/illustrator. She lives in NorthLake PEI with her husband, and dog. Born in Ontario Canada, she grew up in a large military family and has lived in in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Germany. Alma struggled with reading and memorized most things until the age of nine when, with the help of her grade four teacher, she realized she had dyslexia. By grade nine Alma loved reading. Besides writing and illustrating Alma now works in schools as an educational assistant who helps children with learning disabilities figure out the best way for them to learn.

Her books have been nominated and/or have won awards including the Governor General Finalist 2008, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award finalist 2009 & 2011 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award winner 2009, CLA Children's Book of the Year Honor Book 2009, 2011 Golden Oak Award winner 2009, Once Upon a World Children's Book Award Winner - 2009, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award shortlist - 2010, SilverBirch Award shortlist -2010, 2014, Silver Birch Express 2023, Blue Spruce Award 2014 & 2016, 2022, Kentucky BlueGrass Award 2015 and the 2016 Marilyn Baillie picture book award.

Alma Fullerton's profile page

BRIAN DEINES has illustrated numerous books for children, including SkySisters


(written by Jan BourdeauWaboose), Dragonfly Kites (written by Thomson Highway),


and One Hockey Night (written by DavidWard). He has been nominated for

numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Ruth and

Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Literature Award, the Martha Baillie Picture Book

Award, and the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award. A native of Red Deer, Alberta,

Brian lives in Toronto.

Brian Deines' profile page


  • Short-listed, OLA Blue Spruce Award
  • Winner, Rainforest of Reading Award
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Resource Links "The Year's Best"

Editorial Reviews

About In A Cloud of Dust

2016 Rainforest of Reading Award Winner

2016 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award shortlist

2016 Ontario Library Association Blue Spruce Award shortlist

2015 Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection

"Soaked in warm golds and oranges, Deines's oil paintings glow with a sense of promise as the children race around the schoolyard on their bikes. Fullerton says quite a bit with few words in her verselike prose, and a detailed author's note discusses the vital role bicycles play in communities across Africa and supplies information about bicycle donation organizations."—Publishers Weekly

"Oil paintings in rich shades of orange show the children surrounded by clouds of dust...and the simple text reads aloud smoothly, making the book a good introduction for a discussion of different yet similar lives. An author's note, appropriate for adults sharing this story with children, explains the need for bicycles in southern African countries and provides the names of organizations that work to fill that need. A nice addition to primary-grade 'values' collections."—Kirkus Reviews

"Notable for its message of putting others before oneself, the story is buoyed by illustrations that shimmer with movement, light, and feeling. Shades of ochre, amber, and pale gold radiate from each two-page spread, conveying through oil paint the warmth and grittiness of this village and its children. An author's note explains the role of and constant need for bicycles in Africa."—Booklist

"Fullerton's inviting text is spare and poetic.... Deines' radiant oil paintings glow..."—Quill & Quire

"This glowing book is a wonderful introduction for young readers to life in a culture where many things are different, but some things are exactly the same."—The National Reading Campaign

"Highly recommended for classroom investigation and discussion and learning about good citizenship."—Resource Links

"[Deines'] rich oil paintings, with their solid figures and warm palette, are very much up to the task of giving readers the sense of life in Africa. The joy of the children who have received a life-changing gift leaps off the pages....Fullerton...has provided a spare text that touches neatly on all the key points of the story."—CM Magazine

"In a Cloud of Dust...teaches a powerful lesson about sharing, and can be used by parents and teachers to show children there are others in the world who are less fortunate."—The Montreal Gazette

"The dusty Tanzanian countryside and the children's joyous faces, rendered realistically in Deines's artwork, shows how simple acts can transform a child's life."—Foreword Magazine

"Fullerton notes that in Tanzania and other parts of Africa, there are still millions of people who cannot afford transportation....Some NGOs donate bicycles and open bicycle libraries where children can sign out a bicycle. In a Cloud of Dust lists organizations in North America that donate bicycles to Africa....Learning more about these organizations and doing fundraising in your classroom could be great book extensions for intermediate students. In a Cloud of Dust demonstrates kindness and the idea of paying it forward. The message in the book is terrific and can be embedded throughout the curriculum, specifically focusing on equality, citizenship and social justice. This book would be appropriate for junior and intermediate levels."—ETFO Voice Magazine

"Alma Fullerton's text is modest in its quantity but weighty in its simple message of compassion and support...Brian Deines' illustrations are incomparable, effectively portraying the dusty and lengthy distances over Anna must travel to school...highly evocative of the landscape and mood of the remote areas of Anna's Tanzanian home..."—CanLit for LittleCanadians

"This look at an experience foreign to most readers in the United States hits on some easy-to-spot universals of children around the world, including the experience of learning, of disappointment, and of playing with friends."—Matthew Winner, "10 Books for Universal Human Rights Month"

"Highly recommended for preschool, elementary and public libraries to increase awareness of life in different cultures and parts of the world."—Oregon Coast Youth Book Preview Center

"Glowing oil painting in golds and oranges spotlight the simple, uplifting story about sharing."—Omnilibros


Librarian Reviews

In a Cloud of Dust

A Tanzanian schoolgirl struggles with a long walk to and from school that leaves her no daylight in which to do homework. When studying at lunchtime makes her miss out on the bicycle library’s visit, her compassionate classmates find a way to share the bicycles so that everyone can reach home.

This picture book, narrated in simple poetic language (most pages of verbal text are less than twenty words in length) tells the story of one determined girl who helps her friends learn how to ride the bicycles they received from a truck that pulled into their schoolyard. The book can lead to a study of Bicycle Libraries, and perhaps help young people to consider ways to support this humanitarian cause. In a Cloud of Dust is an ideal read-aloud to help students think about respect and teamwork.

A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton Author available for class visits. @AlmaFullerton

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

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