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

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Review: Starry Starry Night

The first thing Starry Starry Night did was pull up the corners of my mouth into a lovely and very warm smile. It wasn’t because of the stunning illustrations (though it really should have been that) – it was this line:

“…he dreamt the twinkling dots were stitched together with invisible thread…”

This is not the only line in the book that made me smile, no no – there are many. Here is a writer who (hallelujah!) writes from the heart, in a stream-of-thought fashion that refuses to conform to the standard ‘rules’ that govern how a picture book should operate.

Many many a picture book is stripped of descriptive content under the guise of superfluity, to allow illustrations to do the ‘talking’. But while a picture paints a thousand words – isn’t the book always better than the movie? Sometimes the words are also a delicious accompaniment.

I so believe enriched text can so beautifully complement even the most stunning, detailed illustrations – and this is what Starry Starry Night does. Perhaps because, in this case, the author is also the illustrator, or perhaps because the ms escaped an overzealous, formula-driven editor (I’m loving this editor).

But enough of my analytics… back to the story – which is why we’re here. When little Jeffrey sees a falling star, he scampers out into the dark night in search of the star, worried the star may be a lost part of his imagination, tumbled to the ground and forever lost. When he finds the star, he discovers an empty shell, which he takes back to his house to stuff with poetry and pictures and secrets he hopes will rekindle the star.

But as Jeffrey drifts off to sleep, something a little magical happens, and we discover that new and unexpected imaginings are just as important as those we work hard on fostering.

The illustrations in the book may be visually dark, but Mitchell makes them shine - not only with plentiful dots of incandescent starlight, but with the heart and soul of a young boy.

Unusual and beautiful.

Title: Starry Starry Night
Author/Illustrator: Sarah Kate Mitchell
Publisher: Pier 9, $29.95
Publication Date: November 2010
ISBN: 9871741968194
Format: Hard cover
For ages: 5 – 10
Type: Picture Book