A boy and a cave-dwelling beastie encounter each other in this bedtime story.
An early-elementary-age boy, tucked into bed for bedtime, asks his father (depicted, rather creepily, in silhouette) to tell him the story of the Stark. Ensuing illustrations erase any initial disquiet with their crisp luminosity, evocatively rendering the mystery and wonder of the titular cave as the story unfolds. The Stark (the father tells the boy) lives in the caves and hunts for treasure. The blue-furred Stark has a nonthreatening Sesame Street–monster look. An unnamed boy (with brown, freckled skin and red, Afro-textured hair, just like the listening child) shows up to go caving, and when he sees the Stark, the boy says, “Shoo!” The wordy, somewhat disorganized text revolves around the boy exploring the cave and saying “shoo,” to the Stark. One night the Stark, deliberately or accidentally (it’s not clear), gives the boy a “stone pearl,” and the boy realizes the Stark means him no harm. The boy then sews a stuffed Stark “baby” and leaves it for the Stark to find. While the story itself doesn’t captivate, the backmatter, “Cave Facts,” does. It explains some of the cave phenomena mentioned but not clarified (“cave pearls,” “walrus whiskers”) in the story’s body and adds depth and interest.
Luminous illustrations, interesting backmatter, but a wordy, less-than-clear story. (Picture book. 5-8)