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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Skies Like These, written by Tess Hilmo. Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2014. $18.99 ages 9 and up

"Roy frowned. "Don't forget who the real victims in this situation are. Losing a few days business won't kill a guy like Farley. It may shake him up and have people in town look at his store differently, but we both know fish heads won't close his doors." He put the cleaned pipe down and picked up a different piece. "And what's wrong with having a little fun along the way?"

Jade is very sure that spending vacation time in Wyoming is not what she wants to do. She likes summer in Philadelphia with her friends and familiar surroundings. Her parents want her to spend time with Aunt Elise.

"Jade looked sideways at her aunt. She studied her wild, choppy hair poking out every which way, then dropped her eyes down to the knit vest and awful brown corduroy pants that ended a full five inches above her sandals."

She is soon in Wyoming where she almost immediately meets Joshua Parker, who insists on being called Roy in homage to Butch Cassidy whose real name was Roy Parker. Roy has great admiration for Butch Cassidy's way of helping others and is determined that a search of his lineage will prove he is a descendant. At the moment of meeting, Roy is trying to come up with a way to rob the bank in order to get his family's hardware store back.

Jade is keen to help Roy; she would prefer legal means. She has a few ideas, including stargazing parties on her aunt's adobe rooftop. Aunt Elise loves the nighttime sky, and has much to teach others about the stars and the beauty of listening to its sounds.

Tess Hilmo gives us a community and characters to love and admire. They know and support each other through all of life's storms, weather-related or not. As the summer passes and Jade spends time with these very special people, her view of the world expands. Not only does she learn a great deal about the wide open spaces of Wyoming and its night sky, she is embraced by their caring friendship.

Her summer adventure is a revelation for Jade, proving to her that she can hold her own, and be brave when bravery is needed. I do hope that there will be more visits with Aunt Elise, Roy and the Parkers.

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