top of page
I Am Smoke


I Am Smoke

A New York Public Library 2021 Best Book for Kids

One of the 150 Most Anticipated Fall 2021 Books selected by Kirkus Reviews

An American Library Association Notable Children’s Book 2022

2022 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People

2022 Bank Street Best Children’s Books, Ecology

2022 Blueberry Honor Award


“I lack a mouth, but I can speak.... I lack hands, but I can push out unwanted guests.... I’m gentler than a feather, but I can cause harm....”


By turns playful, challenging, and devious, smoke boasts of the ways it has helped human civilization advance: coaxing seeds to sprout; driving out termites and rodents; sending signals over long distances; preserving and flavoring foods; soothing bees; mixing med- icines; aiding religious ceremonies. But smoke tells us that it can also cause harm and will never be tamed. Smoke has been borne aloft from flames, and its elements returned to earth, since before recorded time; its cycles never end.


Henry Herz’s spare, riddling narrative finds its ideal complement in Mercè López’s illustrations, which she created by holding art paper over smudgy burning candles to capture swirls of smoke. She then extended and deepened these textures with watercolors and finished in Photoshop, and the results are mesmerizing.


Backmatter about the uses of smoke through history enhances the book for STEM learning.

bottom of page