Under the same sky by Robert Vescio
Illus. by Nicky Johnston. New Frontier Press, 2019. ISBN:
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Isolation. Two lone children, on opposite sides of the world, crave friendship. Each is alone. One is a more affluent city dweller with his own space, a desk and lamp in his room illuminating his possessions, while the other lives in a more remote space, surrounded by chickens, with fewer possessions, a bedraggled barbed wire fence on the clifftop, a woven rug underfoot. Readers will use the illustrations to tease out the circumstances of each of their lives, but one thing is certain, they both wish for a friend.
One night a falling star gives the city child an idea, and he gets out his craft box and makes a present for the girl a long way away. He attaches his gift in an envelope to a pigeon and sends the bird off into the sky. The pigeon reaches the girl and returns carrying her response back to the city.
Children will recognise the underlying message of hope in this story: that people can connect no matter where they are, it takes someone to make a move just like the city boy in sending a 'hello' across the seas. He reached out to someone he did not know, using whatever came to hand to make that connection.
The sky at night is beautifully rendered by the illustrator, Nicky Johnston, making the different blues a constant feature throughout the book. Pale morning hues are contrasted with the dark blue of the night sky, sprinkled with stars above both children, while the stunning endpapers reiterate the morning light, promising of good things to come. They both live under the same sky, and that is a truism for all of us.