The Man in the Clouds lives up a mountain and shares his treasure–a beautiful painting–with all the people from the village below. Those whose lives are touched by unkindness and cruetly are especially moved by the painting, finding comfort in its promise of a beautiful world that does not know pain and suffering.
One day, a stranger comes up and tells the Man in the Clouds how much his painting is actually worth. Bit by bit, this changes how he perceives his art and begins to think of it in terms of monetary value. In fear of his precious painting being stolen, the Man in the Clouds puts locks on his doors and chases people away. Finally, he is all alone, then finds out that his painting has lost all its beauty.
He destroys the painting, opens his doors and windows, and discovers the real beauty lies outside.
When Bintou, a little girl living in West Africa, finally gets her wish for braids, she discovers that what she dreamed for has been hers all along. A little girl named Bintou wants long, pretty braids that are woven with gold coins and seashells, just like her older sister and other women in their West African village. But she is too young for braids. When Bintou saves the lives of her two young cousins and is offered a reward, she discovers true beauty comes in many different forms.