Giff, Patricia Reilly. Winter Sky
January 7th 2014
by Wendy Lamb Books
Siria's mother died when she was very young, and her father is a firefighter. Siria is so concerned for his safety that whenever she hears the trucks in her urban neighborhood, she runs or bikes to the scene to make sure he stays safe. Her friend Douglas loves fires, and often comes with her, but her friend Laila is content to stay at the apartment building. In her roaming around, Siria finds a dog that is hungry and living in abandoned buildings, sometimes getting its chain caught. She tries to buy food and keep the dog safe, but she is alarmed at the amount of small fires that have been popping up and making it necessary for her father's unit to go on calls. When she finds a piece of Douglas' coat in a suspicious location, she thinks that he is setting the fires and fights with him about it. At one fire right before Christmas, Siria's father is injured and has to go to the hospital. Siria stays with Mimi, an older woman who lives in her building and babysits her. Izzy, who is on her father's crew, lets Siria know that she has been watching Siria show up at all of the fires. Izzy steps in to help take Siria Christmas shopping, and also encourages her to keep the dog, whom she has bathed and brought to her apartment. Siria solves the mystery of the fires, her father comes home, and she gets to keep the dog.
Strengths: The city setting is very vivid, and a nice change, since not as many books have children who live in apartments as main characters. Also interesting insights on what it would be like to have a parent who is a fire fighter.
Weaknesses: Mimi is not doing a good job of watching Siria! She's running after fires, hanging around in abandoned buildings AND fooling with a feral dog? The mystery of the fires being set was not solved in a satisfactory way for me, and some of the writing is not as well done as I would expect from Giff.