- Under the Milky Way by Frané Lessac, and: Under the Southern Cross by Frané Lessac
Lessac, Frané Under the Milky Way; written and illus. by Frané Lessac. Candlewick, 2019 [32p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5362-0095-9 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad 4-8 yrs
Under the Southern Cross; written and illus. by Frané Lessac. Candlewick, 2019 [32p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5362-0226-7 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R 4-8 yrs
In these picture book travelogue companions, Lessac acts as guide on nighttime tours around North America (Milky Way) and Australia (Southern Cross), encouraging her audience to look up as well as around. Selected sites are kid-pleasing and often satisfyingly eccentric, spanning the continents to give readers a sense of the regional and demographic diversity. In Austin, Texas we see "the largest urban bat colony in North America" darting around the Congress Avenue Bridge, while in Toronto, Canada, families mill about the night market sampling "satay chicken, tornado potatoes, stinky tofu, bubblegum cupcakes." A hemisphere away, mysterious Min Min lights near Boulia, Queensland "chase scared travelers down the road," and in Darwin, Northern Territory, moviegoers celebrate the dry season at the outdoor Deckchair Cinema. Milky Way is a somewhat superficial list, while Southern Cross adds value with additional features—a map that incorporates motifs from the title's artwork to show readers where places are located, and subtly outlined stars in the [End Page 214] Southern Cross that challenge viewers to not only find the constellation but also to consider its changing orientation at varying times and locations. Armchair travelers can pore over Lessac's detailed gouache paintings by day, or wind down with her gentle nocturnal adventures at bedtime.