It’s pretty much the perfect time of year for Amy Lundebrek’s debut picture book, Under the Night Sky. It’s a gorgeous, evocative story of a child’s first experience with the strange magic of the Aurora Borealis, aka the Northern Lights. Picture time:
(Photo Attribution: Nick Russill)
In Under the Night Sky, a working mom comes home very late and gets her son out of bed. They bundle up and head outside into the night to watch the sky, filled with dancing, flickering light. Soon more people in their apartment building join them in the parking lot – an impromptu community gathering inspired by the spectacular natural light show. Mother and son and a family of neighbors clamber onto the roof of their old car and lie there, staring up. Throughout the night, the adults and children have conversations about what they seeing and about their lives as it gets later and later. In the morning, the boy remembers the events of the night before and senses the magic of what he experienced.
Amy Lundebrek really captures the feelings of excitement and spontaneity as a family and community celebrate one of the most awesome of natural phenomena. I liked how the story moves from the safe routines of ordinary life inside this family’s apartment, opening up to the wondrous, giant presence of the Aurora Borealis waiting just outside their building. It suggests that everyday we must be ready to step out of our highly scheduled lives to see and to value the amazing mysteries of the natural world. Not only will Amy’s book inspire kids to ask questions about the Northern Lights, I like too that it addresses in a subtle way the sometimes challenging experiences of some single-parent families. It is said early on that Mama works very late in a factory and her son waits up for her in bed after a neighbor checks in on him. This story makes clear the value of people supporting each other, working hard to make good lives together and still taking time when they can to create good times and powerful memories. I must mention as well that Anna Rich’s illustrations practically glow on the pages, with dark, deep background colours and bright streaks and hues enhancing Lundebrek’s descriptions.
This is certainly a story to inspire people to get out and enjoy nature even when the mercury drops low and the wind rattles the panes. When you come back inside, you’ve got a lovely book to curl up with.
There is a Tilbury House Teacher’s Guide for this title, and Amy will be here tomorrow for an interview, to launch her blog tour. Hooray!