Awarded Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Awarded Best Space-themed Books for Young Readers, Smithsonian Institution

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.

Fortunately, his struggle with claustrophobia has little impact on his one true passion. Unlike his annoying friend Buddy, who wants to become an astronaut and is not at all bothered by the idea of flying in a cramped space capsule, Arno dreams of exploring the galaxies with powerful telescopes back on Earth.

But first he has to enter a local radio contest. If he can phone in and correctly answer a skill-testing question, he’ll win an invitation to the opening of the new observatory.

Then another boy moves to the neighbourhood, and Arno’s anxiety grows as he feels abandoned by his friends (and even his own dog, Comet). Suddenly, his dreams seem about to turn into a cosmic nightmare.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Canadian Children’s Booknews: “Jessica Scott Kerrin delivers another heartwarming middle-grade tale featuring a believable, winsome protagonist. Leisurely-paced and understated, Clear Skies is also a nostalgic evocation of a bygone era, filled with fascinating facts about the space race and life in the sixties.”
  • Globe and Mail: “This is a powerful historical middle-grade novel set during the U.S./Soviet space race in the sixties, featuring a budding young astronomer who will capture the imagination of readers fascinated by history and science.”
  • Quill & Quire: “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. Kerrin has a knack for capturing the lives and voices of her young characters, drawing personalities, conflicts, and underlying secrets with realistic dialogue and strong narrative blocking.”
  • Kirkus Reviews: “Writing in a believably childlike third-person, Kerrin provides a quiet reminder that the stars are not out of reach, with work and well-timed help.”
  • CM Canadian Review of Materials: “Filled to the brim with fun facts about our solar system and space exploration, this short novel would be a fantastic choice for struggling readers as well as those who are interested in all things science and space-related. Clear Skies offers excellent cross-curricular connections with the Ontario Grade 6 science curriculum, thereby lending the book to be a rewarding pick for elementary educators and teacher-librarians. Highly recommended.”

Bonus materials