Book Buzz: Red Sky At Night
Red Sky At Night
Written and Illustrated by Elly Mackay
Ages 6-9, Tundra/Penguin Random House
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.
Historically speaking, watching the weather has always been something that folks do so that they won’t be caught out in the rain without an umbrella. Sailors, farmers, hunters throughout history have observed the clouds, animal behavior, wind and air temperature to predict the weather. The weather report on the radio, TV and phone are really not that old when you think about how long folks have wanted to know whether it was going to rain, sleet or snow.
Elly Mackay’s Red Sky At Night is a beautiful telling of all those weather rhymes that we’ve grown up with. Some we know and some I only learned when I read her book.
When the dew is on the grass, no rain will come to pass.
If woolly fleeces are in the sky, be sure the day is fine and dry.
Ring around the moon, rain will come soon.
Believe it or not, most of these weather rhymes are backed by observable science that is featured in the appendix. For example:
Trout jump high when rain is nigh.
“True When there is low air pressure, it usually spells rain.
Before the rain comes, insects fly low looking for cover. Minnows,
on the other hand, come to the surface of the water, following the
rising gas bubbles that have been released by the low air pressure.
You might see fish jumping to catch the low-flying insects or in
pursuit of the minnows.”
Don’t let the non-fiction nature of the subject fool you. The illustrations are simply luminous. With a delicate balance of illustrating the rhymes with cut out drawn figures and scenes, the images are photographed in kind of a back lighted stage box. Almost a shadow box effect, but with the light glowing from behind. Colorful and soft, the whimsical illustrations show children fishing and swimming with their father, animals playing in the water and deep ocean waterscapes. The blurry colors blend to create a soft image and a welcoming calm.
Red Sky At Night would be a great book for the young to share with older relatives. It may prompt stories of Grandpa’s youth.