The Sky Dreamer by Anne Morgan and Celine Eimann
IP Kidz, 2011. Hbk. ISBN 9781921479977. Ebk ISBN 9781921479984.
Since his sister died, Liam has been living in a grey world, sitting watching the wintry sky for hours wondering if Cassie was out there, somewhere. Even the prospect of his birthday the next day does not enthuse him. But that night, Liam hears a voice calling and there, outside his window is a sailing boat tethered to an old silver ghost gum. Aboard is Cassie, warm and happy, and inviting him to join her. 'Climb aboard the Sky Dreamer', she calls.
When he does, she picks up needle and thread and begins to sew Liam's birthday present, but before she reveals what it is Liam must learn to sail the Sky Dreamer. Liam encounters some difficulties doing this, each time begging his sister for help, but she keeps sewing, and Liam has to learn to do it for himself sailing on and on and on until, at last, a comet with a tail as long as a year, lights his way home. Just as the sun rises, the Sky Dreamer vanishes and Liam tumbles out clutching his present from Cassie . . .
This is a most sensitive, alluring book about a child dealing with death. Written following the death of the author's daughter, it acknowledges that grief is a long journey which may be shared but which is travelled alone. It can be stormy and seemingly endless but there is eventually acceptance and comfort and a way forward.
The beautiful, delicate pictures mirror the mood of the story perfectly - monochrome in Liam's dark days and the introduction of colour when Cassie appears in the Sky Dreamer hints at a glimmer of hope and happiness. The chaos and colour of the storms reflect Liam's thinking and feelings, but as they merge into gentler colours and less frenetic images the reader gets a sense of growing peace and calm.
Too often our students travel their own version of Luke's journey - this is a book that might help them navigate it more easily, showing them that whatever feelings they have are OK and that they are not alone. That, in itself, might offer comfort.