A flawed but unique title, a useful supplement to other books about the night sky.

STORIES OF THE AURORA

From the Dot to Dot in the Sky series

Legends and folklore connected to the heavenly light show we call the aurora accompany facts and explanations from present-day science.

As in other titles in her Dot to Dot in the Sky series, Galat interweaves material from ancient cultures with modern scientific explanations in order to enhance readers’ sense of wonder about the night sky. Opening with general chapters describing the phenomenon, current scientific understandings, and folklore from both Northern and Southern hemispheres, she then goes on to give examples of cultures who interpret these mysterious lights as omens, fire, and dancers. Chapters are devoted to Inuit beliefs about sky spirits, stories from Norse and Greek mythologies, and tales from Canadian First Nations groups, the Wabanaki and the Mi’kmaq. Finally, she tells readers how and where to look for auroras, pointing to her website rather than NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center or the Canadian Space Agency’s live feed. Each chapter includes sidebars with even more detail about topics such as the Earth’s magnetic field, specific auroral qualities, and magnetic storms. The information is accurate and competently explained and the stories well-told. Illustrations include color photographs, characters from the stories, and diagrams. Sadly, other than the general attribution, no sources are given for the various tales.

A flawed but unique title, a useful supplement to other books about the night sky. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77050-210-9

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Whitecap

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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