First, I’d like to give you my opinion of Under the Night Sky and then I’ve got a few quick thoughts/activities for teachers/parents to enjoy while reading the story with their children:
I especially like that Under the Night Sky is contemporary in its setting of a single, working mother who must leave her child in the care of a neighbor. Children can easily identify with the young boy living in a multicultural neighborhood (and I especially like that we never know his name). There are several allusions to the neighborhood’s economic situation without ever making the reader consider them ‘poor.’ I love this. So many times, we’ve see the skeletal existence of poverty without understanding the joy of simple pleasures. Upon first glance, I was a little disappointed with the dark illustrations, but after reading the story found them to be a striking fit. The darkness of the night bedroom gives way to the green and purple swirls of the Aurora Borealis and lends a mystical quality to the tale.
Under the Night Sky is recommended for elementary libraries and as a great addition for classroom libraries as well.
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Genre: Picture Book. Age: 4-8. Pages: 32.
Themes: Love, Nature Appreciation, Non-Traditional Families
Thanks to Tilbury House Publishing.
Publisher: Tilbury House. Date: May 2008.
ISBN-10: 0884482979 / ISBN-13: 978-0884482970
Buy Under the Night Sky Here
Themes To Touch Upon: Community, Parent-Child Unconditional Love, Science = Aurora Borealis, Dreams vs. Reality, Single Parent Families and and the Simple Joys of Nature.
Vocabulary To Explore (in order of appearance as the pages are not numbered): snuggle, clink, gasping, bundled, landing, shrugs, hustle, straining, oozes, chatting, rare, solar, magnetosphere, spewing, horizon, tilting, jab, duel, burst
Comprehension Questioning (also in order of story progression):
1. Why does the boy’s Mama smell like grease from a factory? (she probably works in a factory where there are machines with grease)
2.Why do you think the boy is pretending to be asleep? (all answers acceptable, but strive for 'because he wants his Mama to think he’s being good' type responses)
3. Where does the boy live? (upstairs/apartment, neighborhood, in a city, where it is cold)
4. What does the mother do that calms the boy down and lets him know nothing is wrong? (she smiles)
5. How do you know it is winter? (boots, mittens, icy breath)
6. What is the boy talking about when he says, “We’ve reached our old Mercury, and Mama digs around in the back seat?” (a car) How did you know? (backseat, others in cars, she shuts the door, hood)
7. What did you think when the boy looked up and saw the green, red, white and purple night sky? (all answers acceptable)
8. Why do you think the people are silent? (all answers but try for 'it’s so beautiful, they are amazed' type answers)
9. Do you think the boy and his mother love each other very much? What in the story made you think this? (the whole unconditional love scene).
10. Has anyone seen these lights in the sky before? (Kevin and his family)
11. Are the neighborhood children friends? (Yes) How do you know? (they all join each other on the hood of the car and press close together)
12. Were the children really pulled up into the night sky? (No) What really happened? (the boy had a dream/imagined about the night before when his Mama took him out to see the Northern Lights)
13. Have you ever hard of the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis?
A few things I found with minimal Goolge searching:
All sorts of math and science activities from South Dakota’s DOE
Copyright free photographs from Wikimeida Commons
27 lesson plans for various ages
Last, but not least, the publisher’s website with many activity ideas
Additional Reviews & Goodies:
Monday, Dec. 8: Shelf Elf
Tuesday December 9: Bri Meets Books
Wednesday, Dec. 10: Reading Rumpus (You Are Here)
Thursday, Dec. 11: In the Pages
Friday, Dec. 12: The Well-Read Child
Saturday, Dec. 13: Read These Books and Use Them
Sunday, Dec. 14: Ready, Set, Read
Monday, Dec. 15: Becky's Book Reviews
Tuesday, Dec. 16: NatureMoms
Thursday, Dec. 18: On My Bookshelf
Friday, Dec. 19: The Green Hour
Amy Lundebrk like outdoor sports as well as painting and sculpting. She has a degree in biology. This is her first children's book. You can read more about her on her website.
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com