'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 7 May 2010

Review: The Star

Title: The Star

Author: Felicity Marshall

Illustrator: Felicity Marshall

Publisher: Ford Street Publishing, A$26.95RRP

Format: Hard cover

ISBN: 9781876462925

For ages: 6 - 10

Type: Picture Book

About: Oh yes, this book is timely.

Although infatuation with fame has been around an eon, there’s probably never been a more poignant time to unshackle the revolting, sycophantic adulation young people are spewing all over the world’s famous right now... this irrepressible belief that life could not be complete without limousines and popping flashbulbs and bling from here to kingdom come – talent and commitment notwithstanding – and that one’s greatest life goal could be harnessed in a fifteen minute timeslot on the tele.

‘Everyone’ wants it. Fifteen minutes of it. And preferably more.

Author/illustrator Felicity Marshall has harness a similar disdain to the fleeting world of fame in The Star – a story reflecting the rise and rapid fall of achieving (and retaining) fame.

When wooden doll Marion is lured into the world of fame, pulled on invisible strings by a man in a hat and glamorous teeth, she doesn’t count on a transformation designed to appeal to the masses – new hair, new clothes, even a new nose.. all changes designed to take her away from her authentic self.

Her dear friends Harley and Polka the dog, are saddened by her transformation and are soon shunned in favour of movie premieres and perfumes made in her name.

But when Marion’s veneer begins to crack and peel away, she loses her marketability in the shallow world of fame and is quickly replaced by someone else – someone new, someone shiny and porcelain-like, who will also be shattered to pieces in a world where unrealistic perfection is everything.

The organic parallels Marshall makes between the storyline and moral messaging in The Star are thoughtful and clever – using a wooden doll to effectively expresses cracks in veneer… the puppetry of dolls being so easily pulled by strings… how our special internal glue is what holds us together (not the varnish and paint on the outside).

The illustrations are highly imaginative and thoughtfully styled, with vividly textured grey-scale sketches, complemented with colour bursts that lend the book that magical 'Wizard of Oz' sentimentality.

But the real magic of this book is in the subtle messaging children will easily absorb – without being smacked in the face with it. It's vital we teach our children that chasing the plastic fame dream is fraught with pitfalls and baited traps... and that achieving it may not be what it's cracked up to be.

The Star will help children learn all of this. And it will also reiterate the fact that nothing lasts forever... other than friendship, love and honouring who we truly are inside. Marion may never be the same at the conclusion of The Star, but what she will hopefully be left with is the knowledge that she's perfect just the way she is. Let's just hope our own kids can learn the same.

Author website

Teachers' Notes

This book is available online