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STAR CHILD by Claire A. Nivola


by Claire A. Nivola ; illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

Pub Date: May 6th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-374-37182-1
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

A fanciful, thoughtful examination of a life well-lived.

As if building on the notion that we are all made of the stuff of stars, the author opens with the Star Child asking his “elders” if he may visit Earth. Their explanations of what he will need to do—“be born as a human child”—and what he will experience throughout his life on Earth make up the text of the book. Simple lines start with the basics, such as learning to walk, run and speak, then move on to more abstract concepts, describing feelings of pleasure, fear and sadness. These are paired with detailed, folk-art–style watercolor paintings and vignettes that seem to capture an earlier time: His mother is often in skirts; he rides a bike without a helmet or shoes; and no glowing electronic devices compete with fireflies. What the Star Child may do in adulthood is condensed: “Over the years you will try to make sense of that happy, sad, full, empty, always-shifting life you are in.” He may even forget where he came from and find it difficult to leave when the time comes. There’s no doubt that the sentiment is lovely, but it seems ill-matched to an audience that is still in the throes of becoming.

An affirmation that it is all worthwhile, better suited, perhaps, to adolescents who will appreciate a look at where they have been and what they may expect in the future and to older adults who will enjoy the philosophical bent.

(Picture book. 6 & up)