cover image Bright Sky, Starry City

Bright Sky, Starry City

Uma Krishnaswami, illus. by Aimée Sicuro. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-405-3

Phoebe and her father love astronomy, but “city lights always turned the night sky gray and dull,” and their chances of spying Mars and Saturn one particular night aren’t promising. After a day spent recreating the solar system in chalk on the sidewalk outside her father’s store, which sells telescopes and other astronomical equipment, Phoebe wishes “for all the bright lights to disappear.” Instead, she gets a rainstorm that drives them indoors. When the storm knocks out the power, however, Phoebe and her fellow residents are treated to a vibrant celestial light show, including glimpses of Mars, Saturn, and the Milky Way. While the story carries an unmistakable message about light pollution (one of several relevant topics examined in an appended section), Krishnaswami’s (The Happiest Tree) elegant, understated writing focuses more on Phoebe’s hopes, disappointments, and curiosities, as well as her tender relationship with her father. Newcomer Sicuro’s mixed-media illustrations are similarly attentive to the story’s emotions, though her scenes never get dark enough to fully convey the sense of a city by night. Which is, perhaps, kind of the point. Ages 6–9. Author’s agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (May)