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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
School is over and Haleigh and her brother, Mason, can’t wait to go and watch their paratrooper dad jump from a military aircraft. The siblings are up for the adventure, even though it’s a long ride to reach the sand dunes where they’ll get the best view. But this is a great learning opportunity so the two can understand the important work their dad does, along with the other paratroopers he works with. It’s all about freedom, just like the freedom the children feel when playing in the sand and watching the exercise take place in the skies above them.
Sarah Doran’s picture book story, The Peppered Sky, is a sweet story about family, particularly a military family. The story is told in rhyming verse, in the first person from Haleigh’s point of view. The plot intensifies as the children approach their destination and watch the military exercise happening above them. The use of metaphors and similes is brilliant such as the scene of paratroopers dropping from the aircraft above, “like bubbles flying high, each a tiny speck create the glowing peppered sky.” I love the analogy to a peppered sky. This is a simple story with a lot of hidden learning goals, like counting, “Almost to the ground now, there’s one, two, three, four, five.” The illustrations are bright, bold, and colorful and add texture to the story. With interactive exercises at the end, this is a great story for both military and non-military families, as it teaches the importance of a job well done and the importance of freedom.