Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Look To The Sky

Thirty-three years ago in June a film releases redefining the boundaries of friendship.  Left behind by members of a botany team, an extraterrestrial forms a unique connection with a ten-year-old boy.  Since that time, it's safe to say the motion picture has reached classic status for several reasons.

It's one thing to befriend another gal or guy, a furry family pal, or one of nature's critters who happens to cross paths with you but it's a rarity to have an opportunity to become best buddies with a being from outer space.  Your Alien (Sterling Children's Books, August 4, 2015) written by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Goro Fujita explores one of life's most often asked questions.  We all wonder if there is life on other planets.

You will be looking out your window when something wonderful comes your way.

This something wonderful is small and green with two antennae on top of a head.  It has a barrel-shaped body with two tiny arms and legs and is wearing a white one-piece garment with a red star in the center.  It appears to be uninjured after its vehicle fell from the sky and crash landed nearby your home.

You try to explain its presence to your parents but they are otherwise engaged to pay much attention.  Your new chum accompanies you to school to the delight of your classmates.  Your teacher does not quite believe what she is seeing.  (The theme music from E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial might be playing in her head.  I know it would be in mine.)

When you share common everyday experiences with your alien, it's like seeing them for the first time.  You two head home when it's nearly dinner time but your companion has other ideas about what makes for a delicious meal.  As it gets darker outside, the cheerful spirit worn by your playmate all day begins to fade.

You attempt to raise its spirits like your Mom or Dad would do for you.  It's the sound of a soft


and a


which prompts a show of affection and gives you a brilliant idea.  Circling back to the beginning something wonderful comes with a look out a window.

Written in second-person narrative, Tammi Sauer invites readers to assume the role of the boy; a role we gladly accept.  We walk through an ordinary day with an extraordinary individual.  Sauer gives us compassion and creativity in the character of the boy.  Through the personality of the alien we realize exceptional gifts do not preclude another from needing life's essentials.

Use of language and word choices exhibit the true tenderness found at the heart of the story.  Each sentence is essential to forming the circular path this story takes.  Subtle bits of humor contribute to the lighthearted but heartwarming essence.  Here is a sample passage.

You'll have to break
the news to your parents.
Luckily, they won't notice
what they just agreed to.

Rubbing your hand over the dust jacket the boy and the alien are raised to add dimension to the illustration.  Your Alien feels a little nubby like toad skin.  The illustrations on the matching jacket and book case extend back to front over the spine.  To the left a full moon with squared edges shines down on the words

A Friendship That's Out Of ThisWorld...

The opening and closing endpapers are funny and joyful.  On a black canvas the alien is shown engaged in twenty different activities; chasing a butterfly, blowing a melody on a sea shell, watching a goldfish swim in a bowl and standing in an upside down umbrella during a rain shower.  The verso and title page begin the story showing him navigating in his spaceship through an asteroid belt.

Rendered using Adobe Photoshop Goro Fujita elevates the text with every image.  Details in the boy's room, a close-up of the alien after landing, the alien swinging on a light fixture, playing in the drinking fountain or eating a sofa cushion and the facial expressions and gestures of the boy increase the depth of the experience for readers.  Fujita alters picture sizes and perspective in perfect sync with the narrative.  Even in the dark of night there is luminosity to his illustrations.

Without telling you the content of one of my favorite pictures, on a single page, the play of light and shadow is uplifting.  We are given a bird's eye view of the scene.  It takes us higher and higher and farther and farther away, literally and emotionally.

Your Alien written by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Goro Fujita will make a perfect bedtime, story time or any time book.  It's like your favorite cozy blanket or stuffed toy; you'll want to have it with you.  This story glows; shining a light on what makes a friend a true friend.

To discover more about Tammi Sauer and Goro Fujita please follow the links attached to their names to take you to her website and his blog.  Tammi Sauer participated in a chat with teacher librarian Matthew C. Winner on the Let's Get Busy Podcast Episode #52.  This title is highlighted on the blogs of educators, Kurt Stroh, Kids Talk Kid Lit, and Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott's Book Nook.

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