Monday, February 12, 2024

Winter Reading 2024 Seeking an Aurora


A father awakens his young child and they bundle up warmly to set "off to find an aurora." The two of them quietly leave Mom and baby sister sleeping and slip out of the house. "Is it scary?" the child asks. Maybe the moon or stars are a part of it? When the phenomenon finally appears, the child's "eyes popped as wide wings of light flew over the sky." Lovely illustrations using soft pastels capture the dark of the night, "the warm, buttery light spilling from the kitchen window," and the glorious sweep of color from the aurora. An amazing spread shows the aurora with the descriptive text following the curves of color and the line of the hills in the distance. The word count on each page is not large, but the phrases used are just right to capture the sense of curiosity and wonder, as well as the way usual objects seem unusual at night. The "cows looked like prehistoric creatures" and the child's "breath huffed like little ghosts." Although the father had not talked much on the way out, on the way back to the house he told "everything he knew about the Aurora." A final page after the story explains to the reader "Everything Dad Knew About the Aurora" - the scientific explanation for what causes the phenomenon.

This story reminds me of Owl Moon or the more recent Night Owl Night, with their sense of a parent sharing something almost magical about the natural word with a child. They each have their own style of narrative and illustration, but that nighttime adventure and shared experience are very similar. It would be good to make a text set of these and other books about exploring the natural world together. Children who have a fascination with what they can observe in the sky will also find it entertaining to explore. 

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