An Arctic tern can fly as many as 50,000 miles in its annual migration, and as this bird chases summer across the hemispheres, it sees more sunlight than any other living thing. In this luminous celebration of such astonishing aerial feats, author and visual artist Timothy Musso charts the migratory path of an Arctic tern family with intricately designed woodcut illustrations that propel the reader along as a partner on a most incredible journey. Back matter expands on the poetic text with additional details about the Arctic tern and other animals.
Arctic terns journey from pole to pole and back each year, and Musso charts one female tern’s travels in a visually stunning picture book that blends accuracy and a sense of wonder. With their white bodies, black caps, and bright red bills and feet, the terns are a study in contrast, and captivating woodcut spreads show the female traveling “between cresting waves and waterspouts,” encountering other species, and finding a mate along the way. Musso’s fine lines, reminiscent of scratchboard art, add topographical dimension to the landscapes while implying magnetic currents in the air (“Scientists think it is possible that Arctic terns use Earth’s magnetic field to accurately navigate,” back matter reads). In the top right corner of some spreads, inconspicuous maps note the month and global location of terns traveling to and from nesting grounds in this bravura sequence, which finds poetry in scientific observation.
–Publishers Weekly(Starred Review), 09/01/2023
Nature explorer/artist Musso‘s debut children’s picture will not disappoint young readers interested in the natural world. Throughout forty pages, young readers are guided along the artic tern’s amazing annual fifty thousand mile migration, with an insert map on every other page detailing the path taken. Simple text directs readers through an arctic tern’s encounters along her way from the Antarctic to the Arctic. Musso’s handmade wood carvings are mesmerizing, majestic illustrations that hook readers in to the journey. Young readers may wonder why there are bands of lines throughout each illustration and will be delighted to understand their meaning later in the book. There, once the arctic tern’s journey and family cycle has been depicted, Musso provides additional details about the arctic tern, its navigation, and animals it encounters along the way. The combination of storytelling, fact presentation, and exquisite illustrations will leave readers in anticipation for upcoming nature picture books from Musso.
–Children's Literature, 09/28/2023
Timothy Musso’s gorgeous Chasing the Sun (The Creative Company) follows Arctic Terns as they spend their life on the wing. Musso’s woodcut illustrations wonderfully evoke the power of this species during their migrations that span the globe. The story starts in January when a female tern heads north from the Weddell Sea in Antarctica, and the narrative follows her as she meets a mate near the Kongakut River in Alaska; my three-year-old loved watching their chick grow from hatchling to fledging in a beautiful two-page spread. Each page covering the journey north and back south shows in an inset where the birds are on the globe while listing how many miles they’ve covered thus far. The Arctic Terns’ 50,000-mile yearly migration was captured by the final spread in the book where Musso depicted terns soaring out to the moon; in a 30-year lifespan, a single tern may cover the distance to the moon and back more than three times. This incredible species is marvelously detailed in Chasing the Sun, my favorite children’s book about birds to come out this year.
–Rebecca Minardi, American Birding Association, 11/11/2023