Reviews for Blue Sky, White Stars

by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Nelson's (If You Plant a Seed) dazzling paintings bring life and power to Naberhaus's (Boom Boom) understated patriotic tribute. Several spreads place dramatic American scenery beside images of the nation's flag. The words "Blue sky/ White stars" accompany a view of the Statue of Liberty seen against a star-studded night sky. On the facing page, the words reappear, this time against the blue ground and white stars of the flag. Some lines use homophonic wordplay to striking effect: a portrait of a seamstress at work (Betsy Ross, perhaps?) appears with the words "Sew together/ Won nation." On the facing page, a quiltlike conglomeration of faces bears the words "So together/ One nation." Nelson's splendid images of the American experience-the Grand Canyon, triumphant civil rights protestors, astronauts on the surface of the moon, a proud African-American veteran, and more-stir real feeling. They include Americans of every age and ethnicity, and many readers will feel that this book looks like the America they know. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Spare words meet striking artwork in this celebration of America. Naberhaus, who came to the U.S. from Punjab at age four, expresses the depth of feeling for her country in minimalist yet powerful phrases that also describe elements of the American flag. The words Blue Sky / White Stars are placed over a starry night with the Statue of Liberty reflected in the water below. The facing full-bleed page shows the white stars of the flag against its sky-blue background. Sometimes the words have literal images, such as a row of trees in autumnal red matched with the red and white stripes; other times, the associations are more subtle, as when a tattered flag is as well-worn as the up-close visage of Abraham Lincoln. Occasionally, there is wordplay: sea waves meets see waves, as Old Glory whips in the wind. Each of Nelson's superb, often photo-realistic images capture the spirit and diversity of the United States, weaving together its people and symbols. Though ostensibly a picture book for younger children, this has the ability to reach a much broader audience, and spark discussion of hopes and fears. It's hard to imagine a book better suited to this time. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Nelson is one of the preeminent kid-lit illustrators working today, and promotion will help this book, in particular, find its many readers.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2017 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

K-Gr 2-Naberhaus, an Indian American immigrant, and Nelson, an African American illustrator, collaborate on this timely homage to the relationship among America's majesty, its hopefulness and diversity, and its flag. Beginning with iconic images of the country (rows of autumn-burnished trees, a white trail of wagons moving west under the blue sky), the spreads feature descriptive phrases paired with illustrations that depict all types of Americans who enjoy the freedoms that the flag represents. The phrase "sew together won nation" is accompanied by an image of a white colonial woman stitching a flag, while the facing page displays an image portraying diverse faces ("so together one nation"). A baseball stadium is captioned "all American" and is juxtaposed with an African American man and grandson listening to the game on the radio-an American flag flying from their porch, a box of Cracker Jacks in hand, a cap emblazoned with "World War II veteran"; they are "all American," too. The raising of a flag and the launch of a rocket are paired with the phrase "rising up," followed by a determined eagle, the flag, and that same rocket "fly(ing) high." And when the rocket gets to the moon, the first thing planted there is a flag, which will be there "forever." History is written by the winners, and this title shows us that the symbols we value cross the barriers of race and ethnicity, making winners of us all. Naberhaus's short phrases are well chosen and evocative, but it is Nelson's paintings that bring power to this title-even the back cover holds a special treat. VERDICT A star-spangled entry, brilliantly illustrated by a national treasure. Highly recommended.-Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Sparsely worded and rich in symbols, this oversize picture book speaks boldly, both visually and textually.From the beginning, Nelson's artistically vibrant images make clear associations between the elements of the American flag and both what they symbolize and the diverse cast of individuals who have contributed, in the past and present, to the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans. Naberhaus' paired homophones, when considered with the illustrations, echo historical truths. For instance, "Sew together / Won nation," with a young Betsy Ross sewing the first flag, appears across the gutter from "So together / One nation," with a crowd of Americans displaying different ethnic, racial, gender, and age markers looking directly at readers. At every point, Naberhaus and Nelson claim America's multiculturalism and pluralism as assets. Although some might consider this book patriotically didactic, its reliance on symbols leaves much for readers to fill in with their own knowledge and experience. And while this text would probably have been well-received at any time in the past, many adult and child readers will warmly welcome the way it embraces the idea of "e pluribus unum" at this particular historical moment. Notes from the author and illustrator and additional notes on the author's website about the book provide extra material for classroom discussions. Naberhaus and Nelson give new life to Old Glory for the youngest of readers. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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