Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

They, Like Many Things, Are Everywhere-Stars

I have long held the belief that we buzz through life much too quickly missing the details that Mother Nature has laid before us so splendiferously.  With the melody of When You Wish Upon a Star sung by Walt Disney's Jiminy Cricket forever echoing in my mind, I still experience a surge of joy at spotting the first star in the evening casting my wish skyward.  Author Mary Lyn Ray and two time Caldecott Honor Award illustrator Marla Frazee collaboratively convey the magical marvel of stars, not only scattered across the horizon but those found all around us if we only choose to see, in their new title, Stars.

Using spare but profound poetic text Ray offers readers musings on stars' place in our world, their effect and purpose in the design of life; she makes us see that the magic is attainable if we change our perspective. 

A star is how you know it's almost night.
As soon as you see one, there's another, and another.
And the dark that comes doesn't feel so dark.

She wonders about the impossibility of catching them in a basket but the possibility of making one to keep in your pocket like a favorite rock but really not the same.  Stars can be a symbol of safety, honor an achievement or be an object of fantasy.  Always keeping your special star in your pocket, it's okay to give another one away; because on those not so shiny days all you have to do is touch the one you've saved.

Moss, strawberry and pumpkin blossoms, snowflakes and fuzzy dandelions yield their own celestial wonders.  But it is in the darkness of night those pinpoints of light will have one or many gazing upward, amazed at this gift that is there everywhere even when we can not see them.  It is this knowledge that brings a continuity to this book; this is the heart of what Ray shares with readers.

As soon as I saw the endpapers, clouds across the sky in the front and a starry sky in the back,  illustrated by Marla Frazee I knew that a visual treat as only she can deliver awaited.  Using graphite, gouache and gel pens wide expansive skies and intimate individual progressions deepened the spirit of the words.  Liberal use of white space draws readers' eyes to the hand-lettered text by Frazee; hand-lettering adding a very personal touch to the title.

There is a softness to Frazee's illustrations that invite, urge and comfort readers; a universality conveyed in her character's individual gestures and emotions.  Predominantly using an array of hues of blue, gray, green and golden yellow as backgrounds breaths life into those characters.  A small boy walking his dog as the first star of the evening appears, three children gathered around a picnic basket inside a hollow tree lit by lantern's light reading a book, mouths open in laughter children aboard a red sled cascading down a snowy slope or the boy with his dog blowing on a dandelion seeds swirling, billowing outward are some of my favorite images from Stars.

I can just picture this being read to a child cozy in bed, to a group around a crackling fire on a clear summer night or a group of pajama clad students on Pajama Day.   May this endeavor by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee together for the first time be the beginning of many to come.  I'll wish on a star.

To access the author's and illustrator's websites please follow the links embedded in their names.  For more interior visuals from the book, follow this link to the publisher's website.


  1. Marla Frazee passed us your blog because she loved your review! We have posted this on our Simon & Schuster Facebook page for Teachers & Librarians here: http://www.facebook.com/SSEdLib

    We'd love for you to follow us!

  2. Consider it done. It is always a pleasure to highlight the work of authors and illustrators who bring so much to the world of literature through picture books.