Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bright Sky, Starry City by Uma Krishnaswami, Aimée Sicuro (Illustrations)

So often I read a book and it makes me think of a certain student and what they like to read. This one brings to mind a grade 2 student that loves, loves, loves any book about the planets and solar system. While it is a nonfiction book, I know this student will like the nonfiction facts in the back, particularly the part about light pollution. The story about a girl that's disappointment is turned into a blizzard of happiness when she is able to see the stars at night is memorable with its beautiful mixed media illustrations.

Phoebe draws the solar system on the sidewalk outside her family's store. Her father has the telescope ready because Mars and Saturn are going to appear in the sky. Phoebe can't wait. She loves to find the constellations in the sky and look for the planets. But tonight, she is having a hard time seeing the sky because all the city lights make the stars look gray and dull. Will she be able to see the planets or will the city lights make it impossible?

The story is not very clear at the start that this is a planetary conjunction which means certain planets are lined up between the Earth and the Sun. It is a temporary event that doesn't happen every night. The nonfiction text at the end explains it, but I think the story would have been clearer if it had been mentioned in the beginning. The descriptive writing is beautiful with some strong metaphors, "Phoebe peered through the window at her sidewalk solar system dissolving into chalky streams." Phoebe's character goes from disappointment to spending a special moment with her dad where they both share the same interests.

The illustrations use mixed media such as pastels, watercolors, acrylic, pencil, and collage to create a dreamy night sky. My favorite page is the one with the storm that reminded me of Dorothy's house being picked up in the tornado and blown to the land of Oz. Here the storm picture reflects Phoebe's disappointment and stormy feelings toward the uncooperative weather. I can't wait to pass this on to the students. Make sure to add it to your library.

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