And if I were the sun,
I would rest peacefully
at the end of a busy day…
knowing tomorrow I would shine once more.
In Patricia Storms’ Sun Wishes, readers follow the sun throughout the day from its first sleepy moments to the last glimpse before it sets at night as Storms’ lively text invites readers to see the golden star as the hero of the story. She has the sun waking its friends, exploring every corner of the earth, laughing loudly, dancing and swinging, not at all limited by a location far above the earth.
The sun’s vibrant personality in the story is matched by the facial expressions created by illustrator Milan Pavlović; when the day begins, the sun’s eyes are just beginning to open and her mouth might be caught in a yawn; then, as she lights a gloomy day with a ‘jubilant’ rainbow, her face reflects hope with rays that extend far into the sky; and, when she is warming the sky above a family, she radiates warmth with a circular pattern of beams that surround her bright face. The sun’s position and size changes on each page, creating a connection with the emotion of the story or the wishes that the author is celebrating.
Because the palette for the illustrations is a limited one, the options for some well-known animals, like the Northern Cardinal, or the trees in a forest aren’t true-to-nature, but the colours are so well-balanced and flow beautifully from one page to the next that it is incredibly pleasing, particularly on a page painted in tones of dark purple and cozy orange and featuring a child reading in bed. As the day ends with the child and dog looking out the window together, the orange matches the colour of the sun and is a reminder of the warmth of the sun on a gorgeous summer day. The colours are an extension of the mood on each page, and even the pages which contain the darkest palette have a sense of joy because of the appearance of the bright sun on the page.
Children and families are portrayed fishing in a rowboat, playing in winter and summer, enjoying books, and spending time with each other, but absent from every image is any representation of technology (other than electricity to read by), thereby giving the book a timeless feel. For example, the winter scene has several people blissfully making snow angels while another person pulls a classic wooden sleigh, all without a cell phone, tablet, or other electronic device making an appearance. The unrealistic colour palette also allows for great variety in skin tone for the people on the pages; some have faces where the watercolours have blended to a vibrant pink or purple while others are painted in true-to-life tones of warm brown. Animals are featured more heavily than humans in Sun Wishes, with a detail of moths, beetles, and grasshopper-like creatures on the first full page, surrounded by flowers, stalks, and seed pods. The sun goes on to warm a farmyard with a lonely horse and a sleeping dog while some zebras and giraffes enjoy a drink on the grasslands under the sun’s care. Her rays extend over a flock of diverse birds, many colourful fish in a flowing ocean, and we finally see a red fox alone on a Lawrence Harris-style purple landscape looking out into the horizon where the sun must surely have just set. The animals are painted in flowing brushstrokes, giving them all a sense of action and joy on the page. Even the sleeping dog in the dog house looks as if there are exciting dreams happening behind those closed eyes.
Sun Wishes, an exuberant story of families and animals enjoying time in the sun, will leave young readers with the reassuring feeling that they have a warmhearted friend in the sky above them.
Penny McGill is a library assistant in the Collections Department of the Waterloo Public Library in Waterloo, Ontario.