Skywatcher by Jamie Hogan

Skywatcher by Jamie Hogan. Tilbury House, 2021. 9780884488972

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  Tamen lives with his single mom in a worn building in the big, bright city. His favorite comic book, Skywatcher, inspires him to try star-gazing, but urban ambient light means he can’t see much.  Then Mom surprises him with a camping trip to Maine, where the darkness allows him to finally see the stars (along with hearing a loon and a screech owl) while also giving Tamen new appreciation for his mom’s astronomical knowledge. This is a simple, sweet story about a tiny but loving family. Back matter includes information about constellations, Maine wildlife, and Dark Sky Preserves.

I really loved the artwork, starting with the end papers that feature beautiful, hand-drawn constellation maps, which set the stage. The entire story takes place at night, with light cast by street signs, the setting sun, a campfire, and a flashlight. But when Tamen awakens in the middle of the night, the only illumination comes from the Milky Way, spread out majestically above, with Mom’s arm holding him close and warm. My favorite illustration was Tamsen and Mom, sprawled together in a loving heap in their tent, rendered in simple lines, with Tamsen’s starred pjs providing some added interest. The art looks like pastels, but Hogan overlays black outlines to define the figures, paralleling the comic book art of Tamsen’s favorite Skywatcher. Tamsen cues as Asian, with his black hair and almond-shaped eyes; Mom reads White, with light-colored hair. Love that mom seems to be a doctor or nurse, heading out for her night shift as a babysitter washes dishes.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Children interested in astronomy and stargazing. This cozy book would make a great bedtime story.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: October 14, 2021

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