Above the Clouds

Artful Musings on Civics

Non-Fiction - Gov/Politics
63 Pages
Reviewed on 09/19/2023
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Isabella Berdyna Zysk is a self-published author who enjoys a story in which good guys win in the end even if there's a struggle along the way which all don't survive. She's a storyteller at heart and keeps the narrative suitable for both adult and young adult readers. She loves a medieval-like setting in fantasy worlds where knightly chivalry and noble valor are the goal but with access to better hygiene.

Isabella Berdyna Zysk was born in Michigan, raised in southern California and central Virginia, worked and lived in several states and foreign countries, and now resides in Florida where she enjoys her retirement years.

Her interests include the writings of Aleksandra Layland, Ronnda Eileen Henry, Jane Austen and Shakespeare, history, horses, dogs, trees, sustainable farming, and a variety of arts and crafts.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Civics plays a significant role in the functioning of every country in the world. In Above the Clouds: Artful Musings on Civics, Isabella Berdyna Zysk offers readers artwork that represents the four character virtues that every person should practice, especially people who seek to become leaders of their communities, towns, or even nations. These are Peacefulness, Purposefulness, Integrity, and Courage. Each virtue is composed of three layers: Flora, Fauna, and Flowerbabies. The latter have a lot in common with us, the people. As babies grow up, they develop new character traits. Similarly, we can choose to broaden our minds and change our outlook to meet life's challenges with grace, integrity, and courage. With enchanting illustrations and descriptive prose, the author explains how each virtue relates to a different aspect of nature and helps us live rewarding lives full of meaning and purpose.

Above the Clouds is the kind of art collection that is not only relevant but sorely needed in this rapidly changing world. Thematically rich and poignant, this book touches upon some powerful ideas that leave an impression on you long after you've put it down. Some of Isabella Berdyna Zysk's pieces seem very much postmodern in style, especially the ones featuring the Flowerbabies, while the others involving nature convey powerful imagery that evokes deep emotions. As the world becomes more and more volatile, with social media being the new public square, it's important to remind ourselves about our fundamental values now and then. This book does that and more. Highly recommended.

Philip Van Heusen

I remember taking civics in high school in 1969 and it was nowhere near as much fun as Above the Clouds: Artful Musings on Civics by Isabella Berdyna Zysk. Isabella uses a blend of art to present the four foundational virtues that every good citizen needs to possess. These four are peacefulness, purposefulness, integrity, and courage. Each of these is presented in an allegorical rendering composed of three layers: Flora, Fauna, and Flowerbabies. The backdrop of each picture is various flora or plant life with the second layer being a totem composed of an animal. The Flowerbabies are people. Each virtue is discussed and then turned into a composite picture. One noteworthy statement is, “There is strength in numbers but only if we all pull in the same direction.”

Isabella Berdyna Zysk wants to be sure the reader understands the four virtues that are vital to responsible citizenship in Above the Clouds, so she starts the book off with a list of definitions. In this book, Isabella explains why the various virtues are important and how she pursues them. Her goal is to build unity by tearing down the wall of division found in our society. Having been a civil servant, citizenship is of special importance to her; therefore, she writes in a way that those unfamiliar with civics can understand. Her artwork is interesting, and you will enjoy spending time interpreting the allegorical pictures. Civics can be complicated, but Isabella takes the complications out, leaving easy-to-understand concepts. Reading this book will give you a new perspective on civics and help you understand these four vital virtues.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Isabella Berdyna Zysk offers her view on civics in her book Above the Clouds: Artful Musings on Civics. Through pictures and prose, the author conveys “peacefulness, purposefulness, integrity, and courage” with a series of images and text inspired by the beauty of harmony. The pictures display watercolor images and a series of photos that form a complete piece when placed together. She used no artificial intelligence in the production of the digital art and the material is of an apolitical nature. Zysk provides quotes at the end of the book from several prominent figures, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jane Austen.

Isabella Berdyna Zysk reveals the harmony of cooperation in civil society and the beauty it can produce. Watercolor digital pictures and other artwork have predominant themes and create relatable examples. Zysk’s text conjures up visions of peace and harmony and offers comforting prose between the works of art. The author explains the way we could live to nurture a healthier, well-balanced society with inspired beauty. Zysk combines babies with natural elements to explain her ideas in eye-catching pictures that, when combined, result in a telling piece. She was a Peace Corps volunteer and traveled nationally and internationally, giving her a better perspective of the potential to work together in civics to produce a more balanced environment. Above the Clouds would be comfortable on any bookshelf, as the contents are acceptable for any age, and it would be at home on a library shelf where it could be available to a wide range of people.