Some “wide wings of light” before breakfast . . .

h1 July 13th, 2021 by jules


I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights, and maybe one day I will, but for now I’ve this beautiful picture book import from New Zealand, originally published in 2018, to hold me over — Elizabeth Pulford’s Seeking an Aurora (Blue Dot Kids Press, January 2021), illustrated by Anne Bannock.

In this hushed, reverent story, Pulford and Bannock capture a night in the life of father and child. The story is told from the child’s point of view: “Late into the night Dad nudged me awake. ‘Come on,’ he said.” They sneak out (don’t want to wake Mom and the new baby sister) and climb a hill. “Dad, are stars in the Aurora?” and “Is the moon in the Aurora?” the child asks. Dad doesn’t say much and, when they reach the top of a steep hill, merely tells the child to look up. The swirling lights and “colored ribbons” of an aurora, pictured below, fill the sky.

Pulford gently paces this eloquent story and certainly knows how to spin a phrase. The child takes it all in, Pulford describing it all with evocative wording — the “warm, buttery light spilling from the kitchen window”; the “silvery frost”; breath in the wintry weather as “little ghosts”; “shivering stars”; the moon like a “curved splinter of glass”; the “sleepy silence” after their trip; and more. The soft pastel illustrations breathe, letting the journey be the focus and, of course, dazzling us with the “wide wings of light” in the night sky. Pulford never gets in her own way in this streamlined text: As the pair walks back home, we read that “Dad talked and talked. He told me everything he knew about the Aurora.” And what is the title of the closing backmatter note about northern and southern lights? “Everything Dad Knew About the Aurora.” I love it.

Here are some spreads. Enjoy!


“He pulled on my jacket, woolly hat, and mittens.
‘We’re off to find an Aurora,’ he said.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


“As we trudged away, I looked back at our house. Back at the warm, buttery light
spilling from the kitchen window and our footprints in the silvery frost.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Up and up we climbed, the moon glinting between the trees like a curved
splinter of glass. ‘Is the moon in the Aurora?’ ‘No, ‘ he said.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Dancing light, glowing and glimmering, shimmering and shining. Colored ribbons
swirling and swirling, lighting up the sky on the still, dark night.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“‘Amazing,’ I breathed, back in the buttery kitchen, and tucked at the table,
cozy in the sleepy silence. ‘It was, wasn’t it,’ said Dad.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

SEEKING AN AURORA. Original New Zealand edition © 2018 Elizabeth Pulford. Illustrations © 2018 Ane Bannock. Original North American edition © 2020 Blue Dot Publiations LLC. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

One comment to “Some “wide wings of light” before breakfast . . .”

  1. Oh, the descriptions are beautiful, and the illustrations are just lovely. SOMEDAY, I, too, hope to see the real aurora borealis… Until then, this book is a really pretty placeholder!

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