Clear Skies

Clear Skies

ages 8 to 11 / grades 3 to 6

As the US/Soviet Space Race heats up in 1961, eleven-year-old Arno finds his dreams of becoming an astronomer exploding like an extragalactic supernova.

It is the summer of 1961, and eleven-year-old Arno Creelman wants nothing more than to be an astronomer. His claustrophobia rules out flying in a cramped space capsule, so instead, Arno dreams of exploring the galaxies with powerful telescopes back on Earth.

Arno’s first move: Enter a local radio contest and win a visit to the new observatory that is about to open near his town. The ribbon will be cut by Arno’s idol, Jean Slayter-Appleton, a renowned astronomer whose weekly columns Arno clips for his own notebooks. When he finally manages to phone in and correctly answer the skill-testing astronomy question, Arno is thrilled.

Then a new boy moves to the neighborhood, and he seems to challenge Arno in every way. Robert even believes in astrology, which Arno argues is not a science at all. Before long, Arno is feeling left behind, on the outs with his friends and even abandoned by his beloved dog, Comet. How did Arno’s dream become a cosmic nightmare?

Key Text Features
illustrations

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

As the US/Soviet Space Race heats up in 1961, eleven-year-old Arno finds his dreams of becoming an astronomer exploding like an extragalactic supernova.

It is the summer of 1961, and eleven-year-old Arno Creelman wants nothing more than to be an astronomer. His claustrophobia rules out flying in a cramped space capsule, so instead, Arno dreams of exploring the galaxies with powerful telescopes back on Earth.

Arno’s first move: Enter a local radio contest and win a visit to the new observatory that is about to open near his town. The ribbon will be cut by Arno’s idol, Jean Slayter-Appleton, a renowned astronomer whose weekly columns Arno clips for his own notebooks. When he finally manages to phone in and correctly answer the skill-testing astronomy question, Arno is thrilled.

Then a new boy moves to the neighborhood, and he seems to challenge Arno in every way. Robert even believes in astrology, which Arno argues is not a science at all. Before long, Arno is feeling left behind, on the outs with his friends and even abandoned by his beloved dog, Comet. How did Arno’s dream become a cosmic nightmare?

Key Text Features
illustrations

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd - Aug 1, 2019
Specifications 144 pages | 5 in x 7.5 in
Supporting Resources
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Excerpt
Teacher's Guide

Praise for Clear Skies:

“Clear Skies is a winning middle-grade novel which deals with both mental-health issues and the wonders of space exploration (along with a bit of 20th-century history) in an accessible, non-threatening manner.” — Quill & Quire

“A quiet reminder that the stars are not out of reach, with work and well-timed help.” — Kirkus Reviews

Reviews of Jessica’s other titles:

[star] “Kerrin understands this age group and creates a sympathetic protagonist who will draw in readers … portraying authentic preteen feelings of self-doubt, self-consciousness, and even guilt….a well-told story of growth and self-forgiveness.” — School Library Journal on The Spotted Dog Last Seen, starred review

“…a gentle novel of love, loss, and self-fulfilment….A tender and affecting coming-of-age story.” — Kirkus Reviews on The Things Owen Wrote

“Kerrin writes with unusual perception about the emotional lives of young people.” — Booklist on The Missing Dog Is Spotted

“Kerrin is a fine writer and there’s hardly a wasted word. The book delves into some very weighty issues, including guilt, death, loss and anxiety, with a quiet, understated sympathy.” Atlantic News Today on The Spotted Dog Last Seen

Audience ages 8 to 11 / grades 3 to 6
Reading Levels Lexile 730L
Guided Reading V
Fountas & Pinnel Text Level V
Key Text Features illustrations
Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3