Paired with cut-paper diorama illustrations, folk sayings that predict weather become a story in this picture book.
Author/illustrator MacKay begins with the saying “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” and the accompanying illustration shows a family—an older man and two young children—peering out the window of their cozy house into a red sunset. MacKay creates her illustrations by using cutout paper drawings placed in dioramas, lit, and then photographed. This technique achieves remarkable luminosity and a three-dimensional aspect, with the overall impression being that of looking into a magical stage set. The drawback, though, is that while MacKay does link story elements within the illustrations (the children appear throughout), the individual pictures still don’t agreeably mesh because the light in each one is different, giving a subtle, disparate impression. The organization of weather-related folk sayings into a story of a family sailing, fishing, camping, and then heading home as a storm threatens is original and works well. Too, it may nudge readers to become more curious about their natural world (backmatter gives explanations behind the sayings). And the illustrations—individually—are mesmerizing. Both children and caregiver have beige skin and tightly curled hair, suggesting mixed heritage.
Distinctive, luminous illustrations delight the eye, although visually the story lacks complete cohesion. (Picture book. 3-8)