This book is for the stargazer at heart. Stars captivates the reader and the listener turning both into viewers with its beautiful illustrations. The author, Mary Lyn Ray, whose other works include Christmas Farm, Pumpkins, Shaker Boy, and Welcome, Brown Bird, centers many of her stories on the relationship between people and the environment. Ray uses simple and concise sentences that are appropriate for early readers or young listeners that are ready to be tucked into bed. A great addition to any nightstand, Stars will have children peering out of their bedroom windows to make an impromptu wish on the first star they see.

Ray’s description of stars, whether they be in the night sky millions of miles away, or little decorative stickers placed on a calendar, direct the reader’s eyes toward the charming artwork that Marla Frazee has created. Many of the pictures in this book fill adjacent pages and give the viewer a feeling of being encompassed by them much like one would while looking up into the starry midnight sky. You may recognize Frazee as the author-illustrator from her book A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, which was awarded a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor and the Caldecott Award.

Stars is a great book for parents or grandparents who want to engage their young children to talk about what they think of the story and the pictures. It would be easy to pause on a page and ask the child if they’ve ever received a star at school and what the star meant. Or perhaps the child is an aspiring rock star in which case family members would want to be especially encouraging. Ray suggests that you keep a star in your pocket for the times when “you don’t feel shiny.” In those times of sadness, a star can be a symbol of hope and happiness. Ray also reminds the reader that if they ever lose their star, there are more to be found elsewhere. Point out to the child that each person in the book looks different and may even speak a different language, but that the stars are something we all have in common. When we look up into the night sky, someone else in another place and even in another time, past or future, can look at those same stars.

Stars is a delight to read out loud, but make sure that the listener is allowed to linger on each page, soaking up the vibrant colors, thinking and then talking about the stars in their own life.

– Aubrey Siino

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