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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Outstanding suspense.

WILDFIRE

WHEN TREES EXPLODE

A boy, a girl, a venerable Jeep, and a massive wildfire sweeping across the mountains of Maine. It’s the perfect setup for a riveting tale of high suspense.

Sam and Delphy are staying at separate summer camps on the same lake when the threat of a wildfire forces evacuation—but both are inadvertently left behind. Using the survival skills he learned from his deceased father, Sam hikes cross-country until he finds a remote cabin and the old Jeep that will prove to be his salvation. Only later, barreling along a narrow logging road, does he encounter Delphy. With shades of My Side of the Mountain for a modern audience, 2010 Newbery Honoree Philbrick (The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg) provides the pair of young adolescents, both white, with just enough modern technology to keep the tale credible. It will take all of their courage and wits to survive being lost in the wilderness, even as they are constantly threatened both by the erratic fire and the danger posed by two out-of-control arsonists. Sam’s pithy first-person voice is self-deprecating enough to be fully believable and plays nicely against Delphy’s sometimes less confident but heroically determined character. Short chapters, outstanding cover art, and a breathless pace make this a fine choice for reluctant readers. Interesting backmatter regarding wildfires and survival tips rounds out a thrilling tale.

Outstanding suspense. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26690-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Never didactic, these poems interweave music, programming, family drama, and middle school as interconnected parts of Emmy’s...

EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE

A 12-year-old whose dreams of musicianship are shattered discovers a passion for code.

Emmy’s lonely at her new San Francisco school. When her pianist dad got a dream job at the symphony, the family moved from Wisconsin—her mom’s opera career is portable—but Emmy’s miserable. Devastated she doesn’t have the talent to follow in her parents’ footsteps, she ends up in computer club instead of choir. And it’s there, learning Java, that Emmy makes friends with Abigail—and discovers that coding gives her a joy she’d believed came only from music. Free-verse chapters are conventional at first, drawing poetic structures from musical metaphors. But as Emmy learns Java, the language and structure of programming seep into her poems. Music and code interweave (one poem presents Emmy and Abigail’s pair-programming as a musical duet). Typeface changes have myriad effects: showcasing software and musical terms, mirroring the way formatting helps programmers understand software, and reflecting Emmy’s emotional state. As she becomes more comfortable in her own skin, she grows aware of the many traumas that affect her family, classmates, and teachers, and readers will cheer to see them work collectively—like an orchestra or like software developers—to create something beautiful. Characters’ races are unspecified, but on the cover Emmy presents white and Abigail (whose braids are referred to repeatedly) as black.

Never didactic, these poems interweave music, programming, family drama, and middle school as interconnected parts of Emmy’s life. (glossary) (Verse fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-358-04082-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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