Sky has two immediate problems: what to do with the rest of his life, and what to do about Suze Matheson. She's his date for the Winter Dance, and she's got trouble of her own. Her English teacher has made a move on her, a move that Sky has witnessed from his hiding place in the homeroom coat closet.

Sky is not one for speaking up, or even speaking audibly. Instead he speaks through his music, his jazz piano. Since his mother died, Sky and his hardheaded father have had their umpteenth fight about the future, in particular about Sky's determination to become a musician. Finally, in a snowstorm, he runs away to Greenwich Village. It's 1959 in New York, and he finds himself in the world of Beat poetry and cool jazz. Along the way he discovers an unexpected guide—a blind musician who shows Sky how to see—and what he has to lose to gain his own voice.

  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults


"All readers will likely find themselves battling tears at the ultimate reconciliation between runaway Sky and his gruff, hostile, artificially sun-tanned, unmusical—but still loving—dad."—CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

"Townley presents a compassionate portrait of a young man who is battling for his own place in life, and sets the story in the exciting time of the beat poets and the explosive development of jazz music in NYC. Readers will find a kindred spirit in Sky."—SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Townley, author of the delightful fantasies The Great Good Thing and Into the Labyrinth, demonstrates that he is equally good at realistic fiction in this fond evocation of the Beat era in Greenwich Village."—KLIATT

How It Came to Be

A big reason we moved to our new house was the secret behind it—a woodland creek surrounding an island, home to deer, coyotes, beaver, and even a great blue heron.

We can see the creek from our deck, and I began to ask what-if questions. What if you couldn't get to the island? What if it were protected in some magical way?

It was out of this sense of mystery that the story began to take form.

And I made sure to save a special role for our wonderful blue heron!