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Winter Sky

Winter Sky

5.0 1
by Patricia Reilly Giff

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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


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.

Nominated to the Arkansas Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In spare prose, Giff (Gingersnap) subtly conveys the worries of 11-year-old Siria, whose firefighter father regularly risks his life to rescue others. Unbeknownst to her father, Siria keeps watch over him, chasing fires in the middle of the night to “be his luck.” When a series of fires threatens the neighborhood, Siria suspects that her best friend Douglas may be involved in setting the blazes. Then there’s the mangy stray dog that mysteriously appears at fires and urgently needs Siria’s care. Giff poetically demonstrates Siria’s compassion through actions rather than words. A subplot regarding Siria’s fascination with stars is skillfully woven into the story, expressing the girl’s connection to the mother she lost years ago. Other threads of connectivity emerge, tying Siria to significant people in her life: her father and the other firefighters, who have become like family to her; the occupants of her apartment complex; and the dog she takes under her wing. Siria’s close-knit community evokes a comforting atmosphere of warmth and mutual support even in the midst of danger. Ages 8–12. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Siria was born on New Year's Day and named for the star Sirius, which shines brightest in the winter. Almost 12, she only vaguely remembers her mom, who died when she was little, but she cherishes the astronomy book that belonged to her. She believes that her mother entrusted her with her father's well-being. Pop is a firefighter and the only family she has, and she is determined to keep him safe. She is frightened and feisty, headstrong and calculating. She sneaks out at night to follow the sirens and keep vigil with him and his team. A series of suspicious fires in her city neighborhood during the Christmas holiday season involves Siria in ever more dangerous escapades and seriously disrupts her friendships when she mistakenly believes her best friend might be an arsonist. Siria narrates her own story as it is unfolding; there is no omniscient adult voice to guide her, only her own sensitivity and insights as she pieces the puzzle together. Giff deftly builds upon Siria's relationships with Pop, his colleagues at the firehouse, her friends Laila and Douglas, and a stray dog, greatly broadening the usual definition of family. There is some gritty reality, but the overall tone is one of goodness, kindness and community. Tender and satisfying. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Siria, named by her mother for the bright star in the constellation known as Canis Major, lives on the seventh floor of an apartment building in one of New York City’s boroughs. She treasures her memories of her deceased mother and dotes on her father. Pop is a firefighter, and Siria worries he will get hurt or killed on the job. She even follows him to nighttime fires near their apartment. Then she stumbles across several suspicious fires in the neighborhood and starts her own investigation to find the culprit. At first, she assumes it is her best friend Douglas, who has a green jacket that matches the scrap of fabric she has found at a fire scene. Douglas is angry with her for mistrusting him, but she learns her evidence against him is flawed. At each fire scene, she feels as though someone is lurking around. She cautiously befriends a stray dog with a matted coat that shows up around the fires. She finds the fire starter eventually, a runaway from Pennsylvania. She decides not to turn him into the authorities because the fires were accidental, started as he tried to keep warm. Siria’s father is hurt on the job, but he survives and his injuries heal quickly. Her friends, Douglas and Laila, build her a stargazing shelter on their apartment building’s roof as a present for her twelfth birthday. Along the way, Siria learns to trust the people she loves and to believe in her own strengths. Ms. Giff has a lovely way of developing endearing characters. This telling of Siria’s story is in some ways simple and others complex. The reader will have much to ponder. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Siria's dad is a firefighter who doesn't know that someone special watches out for him; each time his daughter hears a siren, she sneaks out of her apartment building to chase his fire truck and make sure he is safe. During one such nightly pursuit, Siria discovers evidence of what she believes to be arson. Who could be purposely setting fires? When clues point to someone close to home, Siria must find the strength to unravel the mystery. Despite moments of seriousness, such as her father getting injured during a rescue and a fight with her best friend, conflicts are resolved smoothly and quickly. Interspersed throughout the book are tales about Siria's namesake, the star Sirius, which add a layered dimension to the storytelling. Children will relate to Siria's desire to protect her dad and those she loves. A powerful tale of friendship, family, and discovery.—Kerry Roeder, Professional Children's School, New York City

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

PATRICIA REILLY GIFF is the author of many beloved books for children, including the Kids of the Polk Street School books. Several of her novels for middle-grade readers have been chosen as ALA-ALSC Notable Books and ALA-YALSA Best Books for Young Adults. They include The Gift of the Pirate Queen; All the Way Home; Water Street; Nory Ryan's Song, a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Honor Book for Fiction; and the Newbery Honor BooksLily's Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods. Lily's Crossing was also chosen as aBoston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book. Her most recent novels are R My Name Is Rachel, Storyteller, Eleven, and Wild Girl; her books for younger readers in the Zigzag Kids series include Number One Kid, Big Whopper, and Flying Feet.

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Winter Sky 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is such a good book for any child who is interested in mysteries with so many good clues that that lead to a very interesting answer! A very deep and almost true-like story that doesn't have every perfect part. Like Siria's mom had died and she looses her new black an gold mittens.And the story ties in at the end tht no one is ever alone.