In the Sky at Nighttime by L. Deal
Deal, Laura. In the Sky at Nighttime. Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2019.
This illustrated poem shows what a polar village looks like at night and what is in the night sky. In the Arctic, winter nights are long, and it is dark as people go about their daily lives, so many people are familiar with the night sky. Tamara Campeau’s illustrations, each of which fill two facing pages, are in deep blue and purple hues, with the sky prominent in them. The text is overprinted on the artwork. Campeau’s rendering of the village has accurate details. Some of the houses have heating oil tanks outside. Paths to the doors have snow heaped alongside them. Power lines, attached to wooden power poles with insulators and transformers, loop through the village. The yellow light from electric lighting shines out through the windows of the houses. At the beginning of the book Laura Deal describes observable things in the sky: stars, falling snow, northern lights, ravens. Towards the end she becomes more figurative, introducing a mother’s song and dreams swirling in the sky.
The text is a six verse poem, each verse beginning with the phrase “In the sky at night time.” The structure of the poem is reminiscent of Stephen Eaton Hume’s 1992 picture book, Midnight on the Farm, which also uses six verses, each beginning with a repeating phrase, to describe a nighttime world, however the two landscapes are distinct.
Because this is an illustrated poem in the form of a picture book, rather than a picture book with text, some of the words are more difficult than one would expect in books for young children. For example, the dreams are “magical and extraordinary.” As a result, this text, simple as it is, will need some explanation. In the Sky at Nighttime is highly recommended for public libraries and elementary school libraries.
Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Sandy Campbell
Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines. Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.
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