cover image Stars Above Us

Stars Above Us

Geoffrey Norman, illus. by E. B. Lewis. Putnam, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-24724-8

In his first picture book, mystery writer Norman presents a leisurely told story about how a child deals with the absence of her soldier father. When Amanda is afraid of the dark, her father shows her the sights and sounds that make the darkness beautiful%E2%80%94such as fireflies, stars and crickets. And when her father is deployed half a world away, "Amanda would look at the Big Dipper and the North Star and think of him." Both author and artist neatly weave together repeated images of the stars, Amanda's new black lab, the blinking of fireflies, the sound of crickets and how a family copes with separation. Although Norman's language is sometimes awkward, Lewis's painterly illustrations shimmer with family love and warmth as he portrays the family's reunion at the airport and their first dinner together again. "It had been a long, long time since they had done this." After dinner Amanda shows her father his surprise%E2%80%94a room full of glow-in-the-dark fireflies and stars. A quiet, affirming tribute to the resilience of families. Ages 5%E2%80%948. (Sept.)