Review of Seeking an Aurora

Seeking an Aurora
by Elizabeth Pulford; illus. by Anne Bannock
Primary    Blue Dot Kids    32 pp.    g
1/21    978-1-7331212-7-9    $17.95

A story from New Zealand about a rare natural wonder. A father awakens his child late at night to “find an Aurora.” The child asks, “What’s an Aurora?” but Dad doesn’t explain, prompting many guesses. The pair enters the cold and climbs to the top of a hill far enough away that they lose sight of their farm. As in Yolen and Schoenherr’s Owl Moon, they then wait quietly. Soon auroral light illuminates the sky, leaving the child speechless and wide-eyed. With the first glimpse of colors, the child, wearing a bright yellow coat, stands page left, mouth open, marveling at the “wide wings of light,” while the background displays deep shades of blues, purples, pinks, reds, and oranges, with a few stars overhead. The following page shows swirling colors, while the words, mostly gerunds suggesting motion, mimic the contours and flow of the light. In the third aurora image, only distant silhouettes of father and child appear as they celebrate this amazing, color-filled sky, arms raised. The soft ­pastels perfectly complement the story (particularly this three-page climax) because of the ability to smudge and blend colors, evoke movement, and highlight the rough texture of the paper. Informative back matter answers many questions the child asks about auroras. A stunningly beautiful, informative, child’s-eye initiation into a notable celestial phenomenon.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin is the Beverly Cleary Professor for Children & Youth Services in the Information School at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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