Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter Sky by Patricia Reilly Giff

Siria is a ‘fire chaser’.  She can’t seem to fight the urge to sneak out of her apartment whenever she hears sirens blare at night.  She’s on a mission.  She believes she’s the luck that will keep her firefighter father and the other firefighters, her extended family, safe.  So far she hasn’t been caught, and everyone has been safe. Only then the fires start happening more frequently, and closer to home!  Someone is starting the fires, but who?  Siria has to find out.  When evidence begins to point to someone close to her she’s devastated but she will do whatever she needs to keep her dad safe.

I was anxious to start reading this book as the author, Patricia Reilly Giff, wrote one of my favorite books, Pictures of Hollis Woods.  It took a little longer for me to get hooked on this book though, I think because there was so much happening in a relatively short amount of pages.  There’s the story of Siria chasing fires, the possible arsonist, her friendships with Douglas and Laila, the relationship between Siria and her father, the wolf-like dog, the mysterious homeless person, and Siria’s connections to the stars and constellations.  All of that packed onto just 152 pages!  I think this book could easily have been longer which would have allowed the reader to really connect with Siria and her adventures.  As it was, I was pulled in by the mystery, I needed to discover who was setting the fires and why.  There is also a moving message of friendship and family woven throughout the story and reflected on by Siria in the end.

I think students will be drawn to this book by the great cover art and will be taken in by the characters and the mystery of the fires.  This would also be a wonderful book to write more about.  I can easily imagine students writing a “back story”, writing more about Siria’s life at home, her friendships, life at school, and new mysteries she may move on to in the future.