Written by Angela Dalton and illustrated by Margarita Sikorshai, If You Look Up to the Sky, is a beautiful story that subtly explores intergenerational love and nurturance as well as the vastness and intimacy of the universe.
The book opens with the narrator telling a story to an unknown listener: “When I was a little girl,/ I used to sit on my grandmother’s lap/ and we would look up to the sky/ and she would say…”. The accompanying warmly illustrated image depicts a young girl with brown skin in a pink dress sitting in the lap of an older brown-skinned woman whose long grey hair is braided. The older woman sits in a rocking chair and they both look up at the sky.
Time then moves backward as the narrative voice shifts from the adult woman to her grandmother who tells the first narrator’s child-self wise words of encouragement meant to solicit wonder and bravery. The sweet words that dance across the page prompt reflection. For instance, Dalton writes: “If you look up to the sky and it is filled with stars, name one after each of your accomplishments.”
Both calming and provocative, the night sky that dominates the text is seen through the eyes of the child who grows up with every turn of the page. On the last page she looks up to the sky, anthropomorphized into the likeness of an old woman, while she holds the hand of a child. It is visually implied that her grandmother has passed away, and that she is sharing memories, through stories, with her own child.
This exquisitely illustrated book will make a welcome addition to any young child’s bookshelf and bedroom routine. On the surface it’s a simple story that can be shared with children as young as three, but it has enough depth to engage far older children. I can see this becoming a much-loved go-to book that prompts families to share their own stories and impart their own wisdom.
If You Look Up to then Sky can be purchased from Itasca Book.