Deines’s palette perfectly captures the northern cold and the warm relationship the girls have with one another and those around them.
Young people will recognize their own awe in the face of a wintry night reading SkySisters. Jan Bourdeau Waboose, a Nishinawbe Ojibwa from Northern Ontario, writes about two girls who go into the woods to look for the “SkySpirits” – the Northern Lights. Waboose’s richly evocative tale comes with dreamy illustrations by Brian Deines.
SkySisters is a gorgeous book. Readers will undoubtedly linger on each page to enjoy the masterful work of Brian Deines. In SkySisters he guides us immediately from the warm, comforting colours of the kitchen to the cool, quiet colours of an evening in the North. A spectacular painting appears at the climax of the story as the sisters lie in the snow, staring up in exhilaration at the vibrant swath of the Northern Lights above them.
Two themes stand out in this book: the sisters’ love of nature and their delight in each other’s company, both important elements in the author’s heritage as a Nishanwabe Ojibway from Northern Ontario.
Bourdeau’s story is engaging. She writes successfully from the point of view of the younger child. Her language and text are simple and yet capture the magic and poetry of the northern lights. Deines’ illustrations are also magic. He draws the reader into the crisp wintry landscape. He depicts children who are real and full of energy. Hid rich deep colours bring the Northern Lights to life and make the reader long for a late night trek of her own.
The text and pictures work together to express the sense of wonder and excitement that surrounds the phenomenon of the Northern Lights.
Two Ojibway sisters set off across the frozen north country to see the SkySpirits’ midnight dance, and after an exhilarating walk and patient waiting, the girls are rewarded by the arrival of the SkySpirits – the Northern Lights.
Waboose couches her big-and-little-sister story in Native American lore. Two Ojibway girls venture out one cold night for an unclear purpose, following their grandmother’s advice: “Wisdom comes on silent wings.” Along the way, they encounter three guardian spirits: a rabbit, a deer, and a coyote. At last, they arrive at Coyote Hill, where they see the object of their journey: the Northern Lights, or SkySpirits, who dance in the frigid, starry sky. By book’s end, when the older sister renames the SkySpirits “SkySisters,” it’s plain how the simple journey has drawn the sisters together.