Sunrise Summer is a picture book by writer Matthew Swanson and illustrator Robbi Behr that celebrates self-confidence and empowerment, as a girl’s role changes in her family’s fishing expeditions.
When a girl and her family travel four thousand miles from home, it’s not your typical summer vacation. Everything is different on the Alaskan tundra—where the grizzly bears roam and the sockeye salmon swim—including the rules. A girl can do things she wouldn’t, and couldn’t, do at home.
She can wake up at midnight to work with her mom on a fishing crew. She can learn what it means to be an essential part of a team. She can become a braver, stronger, and ever-more capable version of herself. She can take her next big step.
She’s ready for her first real sunrise.
An Imprint Book
Carrying on an unconventional family tradition that began in illustrator Behr's childhood, the married book creators (the Real McCoys series) and their kids travel 4,000 miles every summer to fish for sockeye salmon in a remote part of Alaska called Coffee Point. That adventure is chronicled here through the eyes and voice of a child who finally gets to join the family fishing crew. With irrepressible enthusiasm and an astute sense of detail, the child recounts the elaborate preparations (almost all supplies have to be brought in), the connection to nature and a close-knit community, and the grueling but exciting work itself, which is capped off with "cold spaghetti on the bluff while rain blows sideways up our noses." The family's camaraderie and collaboration are bountifully evident in Behr's skillful balance of reportorial renderings, impressionistic landscapes, and explanatory vignettes (suiting up for the expedition, for example, takes nine layers, "even though it's June"). "Some people never get to join the fishing crew," the narrator says. "Those people are not me." Readers may not be ready to sign on, but they'll feel grateful for being afforded a spectacular front-row seat. Back matter discusses sockeye migration, the history of Native fishing practices, and salmon as a natural resource. Ages 4–7.