________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 5. . . .October 2, 2015


Painted Skies.

Carolyn Mallory. Illustrated by Amei Zhao.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2015.
36 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-77227-004-4.

Subject Headings:
Auroras-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Chasity Findlay.

***½ /4



The stars twinkled through the green and pink silky sheet that rippled overhead. Leslie felt her heart beat a little faster. Could the sky colours hear her? Would they get close enough to touch her?

“Spirits?” Leslie whispered to her friend.

Ooolipika nodded her head. “Anirniit—spirits,” she said.

Leslie held her breath and stared as the streaks of colour changed, painted more of the sky, and drifted closer.

“Should we run back to the house?” Leslie whispered to Oolipika.

“We don’t have to be afraid, as long as you don’t whistle again,” Oolipika said.

“What kind of spirits are they?”

“Aqsarniit are what we call them, northern lights.”

“Lights?” Leslie asked. “Not spirits?”


Painted Skies introduces readers to the northern lights through the eyes of a young girl, Leslie. Leslie has recently moved to the Arctic, and she is experiencing many things in her new home, including the amount of snow that falls there and the northern lights. Leslie’s new friend Oolipika teaches her about this natural phenomenon as they take in its beauty one evening.

     Painted Skies begins as a narrative that teaches readers about the northern lights while Leslie and Oolipika observe its breathtaking beauty. As the girls discuss the phenomenon, readers will learn about what it looks like visually, including its colours and movements, and about some of the Arctic legends surrounding it. The book concludes with a factual epilogue that explains what the northern lights are composed of, how they are created, and where they can be best viewed. The blending of the narrative with the factual text will help readers gain a broad understanding of the northern lights.

     With her stunning work, iIlustrator Amei Zhao perfectly captures the beauty of the northern lights. The colours, composed mainly of brilliant shades of blue, green, purple, and black, perfectly complement the sense of wonder and awe created in the written text and by the northern lights, themselves. Zhao’s use of shading and highlighting captures the sense of movement and shadow of the northern lights.

     Painted Skies will give readers the total experience of the northern lights, both visually and factually. I can imagine that many readers will reach for this book again and again for both the lovely written narrative and the striking illustrations. Readers will leave this experience with a broader range of knowledge about one of the Arctic’s natural wonders, the northern lights.

Highly Recommended.

Chasity Findlay is a high school English teacher in Winnipeg, MB, and a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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