A firefly guides a weary soldier back to his home and son.
The war’s over, and the troops are coming home—but one waiting boy longs to see a shooting star so that he might wish his father safe. What he gets is a tiny lightning bug who is mocked by the others because she cannot fly. But after she falls into his hand and hears his wish, she intrepidly sets out to grant it. Her long, hopping search over land and sea is successful at last, and after leading the soldier back to his son’s arms, Firefly is rewarded with the discovery that, as “love beat in her wings” and she “lit up the sky with happiness,” now she can fly. The story’s sentimental cast is echoed in the illustrations, which are swathed in deep but diaphanous blues. They depict soldiers traveling beneath starry skies in folded paper boats or airplanes and feature airy, indistinct figures that seem wrought from silvery moonlight. Despite tightly furled antennae, Firefly looks more human than the boy and his father, at least until the two assume a little solidity (and can be seen to be white) in their climactic clinch. As books that depict the experiences of children separated from family by deployment go, this is pretty attenuated; Jill Biden and Raúl Colón’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops (2012) is both more direct and filled with useful backmatter, while James Christopher Carroll’s Papa’s Backpack (2015), though it takes a similarly metaphorical approach, has a child-friendly vigor this book lacks.
A hope-filled scenario, although it’s heavily stylized in delivery. (Picture book. 6-8)