by Nell Cross Beckerman

WHEN THE SKY GLOWS originally started as a story about seeing a rainbow. My crit group inspired me to write about all different sorts of beautiful skies—and I was surprised to see the first draft of that was in rhyme!


Early morning

First light

Hello dawn

Goodbye night

When the sky glows…sunrise

I think then my crit group probably said something like: What is this book really about? And I gave some impassioned speech about how we are all on our phones and distracted now, so I added in an opener about that. And stopped rhyming.


Look up! Look up!

Through trees and roofs,

wires and signs,

all around the world,

the sky lives above us.

Sometimes we forget,

but then the sky shines in a special way,

and we stop, watch, and wonder,


when the sky glows.

Around the world,

when night is over,

in the early morning,

the sun peeks.

Bringing warm light,

to a new day.


I think then I took it to freelance editor Deborah Halverson, who worked to help me hack the thing down and make it more lyrical.

Look up! Look up!

The sky lives above us.

Usually quiet.

Usually still.

But sometimes,

Look here! Look here!

The sky silently shouts

And we stop—

to watch,

and wonder,

when the sky glows.

Around the world, when night is over, the sun peeks and the sky glows…



I was finally convinced to just lose those opening stanzas and go super spare:

Around the world, when night ends, golden rays beam out and the sky glows…

This is the draft that I submitted for a manuscript consultation at the SCBWI summer conference in 2018.


I was thrilled to be paired with Andrea Welch from Beach Lane! She loved the story (said it was the favorite she read at the conference!) and started to edit it on the spot, which was crossing out one third of each stanza. By the end of the weekend, she said to expect an offer!!

Around the world, when night ends, golden beams gleam and the sky glows…


After the story had been acquired and illustration started circa 2021, Andrea and I were discussing illustration notes when she said “wouldn’t it makes more sense to have it say ‘when morning comes’ rather than ‘when night ends’?” Yep. And so we have our final opening line:

Around the world, when morning comes…the sky glows.

You can see a whole video of me and illustrator David Litchfield talking about how the book came together on my website here: https://www.nellcrossbeckerman.com/sky.html

The evolution of this story and my work with both Deborah and Andrea really helped hone the spare, lyrical voice I now feel most comfortable writing in. I’ll always be so grateful for this time and what I learned with this manuscript! And wow…a lot of work to land at nine words lol!