Winter Sky - Patricia Reilly Giff

Sirens! A scary sound, especially to Siria, whose brave pop is a firefighter. Siria loves everyone at Pop's city firehouse. She also loves to study the stars. Her mother named her after the brightest start in the winter sky. When Siria hears sirens, she sneaks out to chase the trucks, to bring Pop and the other firefighters luck. She'd be in big trouble if she ever got caught. Good thing her best friend, Douglas, is always by her side. As Christmas approaches, Siria suspects that someone in the neighborhood is setting fires. She has to find out who's doing it. When clues point to a surprising suspect, she realizes that solving this mystery will take all kinds of courage. Patricia Reilly Giff, the author of many beloved and award-winning books, is at her best in this action-packed story. In Winter Sky, friends, family, and a very special dog help Siria see how brave she really is.

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Siria has a love of astronomy she inherited from her late mother, her name itself inspired by the stars. Now being raised by her firefighter father and the neighbor down the hall, Siria spends much of her time bonding with her friends and worrying over her father's dangerous job. She's developed a habit of sneaking out of their apartment late at night (when she's left with the neighbor-babysitter) to follow sirens and make sure her dad is okay. 

 

This Christmas season, there has been a rash of fires close together cropping up in Siria's neighborhood. She begins to suspect arson. She also wants to find out the story of the mysterious stray dog who seems to keep following her around. With her friends Douglas and Laila, she sets out to find the truth. Answers are revealed, but the truth hits uncomfortably close to home.

 

Each chapter starts with a short legend regarding the constellations. It takes the form of an astronomy book that once belonged to Siria's mother. These legends serve as a sort of foreshadowing to events that are about to unfold in Siria's life in the chapter ahead. 

 

The story itself is not all that complex. Giff could've gone a little deeper with it to really get that emotional punch. But what is here is still enough to pull at the heartstrings a bit. Siria learns tough lessons in the dangers of jumping to conclusions and the strength that can come from placing unshakable faith and trust in family and friends.