Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kid Konnection: Winter Sky

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a newly published middle grade book by an award winning author.

Summary: Sirens! A scary sound, especially to Siria, whose brave pop is a firefighter. Siria loves everyone at Pop's city firehouse. She also loves to study the stars. Her mother named her after the brightest start in the winter sky.

When Siria hears sirens, she sneaks out to chase the trucks, to bring Pop and the other firefighters luck. She'd be in big trouble if she ever got caught. Good thing her best friend, Douglas, is always by her side.

As Christmas approaches, Siria suspects that someone in the neighborhood is setting fires. She has to find out who's doing it. When clues point to a surprising suspect, she realizes that solving this mystery will take all kinds of courage.

Patricia Reilly Giff, the author of many beloved and award-winning books, is at her best in this action-packed story. In Winter Sky, friends, family, and a very special dog help Siria see how brave she really is. -- Wendy Lamb Books

If you enjoy middle grade fiction, then you've probably read a novel or two by Patricia Reilly Giff. She's a two-time Newbery Honor winner and author of more than 60 books! Her latest book is called WINTER SKY, and I think she has another winner on her hands.

WINTER SKY tells the story of Siria, a young girl whose father is a firefighter. Siria loves learning about stars -- she's even named after one. However, Siria also is very interested in fires. When Siria hears sirens, she sneaks out of her apartment and chases down the fire. She desperately feels the need to keep watch over her father and protect him from danger -- he's all she has left.

Siria realizes that some of the fires in her neighborhood seem to be related, and she begins to suspect that someone might be deliberately starting them. As she tracks down the clues, she unfortunately discovers that the information leads to a close friend. Siria decides to put aside her feelings and track down the person setting these fires even though it might cost her a valuable friendship. And in the process, she learns some important things about her friends and herself.

I really enjoyed WINTER SKY, and while I don't think it's my favorite book by Ms. Giff, it's still a wonderful read. There are just so many fantastic things about this novel that make it ideal for young readers from the characters, to the writing, to the lessons. Overall, it is an entertaining story that will warm your heart.

One of the things that I loved about WINTER SKY was the character of Siria. She was such a sweet girl, and she discovered so many valuable lessons about friendship, love, and responsibility. I especially appreciated that the entire story was told in her voice. Ms. Giff did a remarkable job of capturing her personality and making her a very real character.

I also liked the supporting characters including Siria's father, her friends, her caretakers, the firemen (and firewoman!), and even the dog. All of the individuals in Siria's life were important to her and helped to make Siria who she was. By using this cast of characters in the way, I think the author also demonstrated the importance of community.

I mentioned earlier that Ms. Giff did a great job with Siria's voice, but she also wrote some beautiful prose. I especially appreciated how she incorporated Siria's book about stars into the story. Not only was it used as a way for Siria to remember her mother, but it also served to tie together stars and constellation lore with certain aspects of what was happening in Siria's life.

And since I am a mom, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how many valuable lessons were part of this novel. Siria was already a terrific girl at the beginning of the story, but she grew even wiser (and happier) by the end. Because this novel dealt with parent/child topics, friendship issues, and even self-discovery, I think it would make an excellent discussion book. Some of the themes you might want to explore include assumptions, guilt, forgiveness, acceptance, fear, secrets, and love.

Overall, WINTER SKY is a fantastic middle grade book! Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

Oh I can imagine that conflict of weighing friendship against doing what's right. Sounds like a good read.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Now why is it I never read anything by this author? Her books sound delightful. This one sounds like the perfect book to read in the wintertime because of the setting.

bermudaonion said...

Siria sounds like such a great character. Most kids aren't faced with that exact situation but many are faced with similar ones. This book sounds wonderful!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

This sounds great!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This looks like a good one!