Thursday, December 1, 2022

Review: Stars of the Night by Caren Stelson


Genre: Children's 7-11
Published: February 7, 2023
Pages: 40

This powerful story is told from the collective perspective of the children who were rescued from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, as Hitler's campaign of hatred toward Jews and political dissidents took hold. The narrative starts in 1938 and follows the children as they journey to foster families in England for the duration of the war, return to Prague afterward in an unsuccessful search for their parents, and eventually connect with Nicholas Winton, a British former stockbroker who was instrumental in bringing them to safety. Winton and the Czech Kindertransport ultimately rescued 669 children from Nazi persecution.

Award-winning author Caren Stelson teams up with acclaimed illustrator Selina Alko to sensitively tell this tale of survival and defiance in the face of tyranny.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

The language in this book is pretty simple, or least felt very simple to me considering the subject matter. But I recognize that it's simple to be relatable for children. I am absolutely biased on this point, because WWII has always fascinated me, but even with simple language, I would have read this book to my children over and over again. It is longer than many children's books I've read, but I feel the story is so important. I also think the simple language would help children to understand what happened back then without raising questions parents might not feel comfortable answering depending on the child's age. I could see this book making kids want to learn more about that time in our history. 

The illustrations were different than I'm used to seeing as well. It was almost like a collection of mixed media pieces bundled together. Some pages featured cut-out and painted newspaper articles. Others look like oil or water color painted notebook pages. It was an interesting collection at the very least, and I wonder if those choices were made to replicate the way the children whose stories are being told would have created art. 

Overall I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Caren Stelson is an award-winning author of nonfiction books that focus on war and peace themes. She believes young readers want to know the truth about their world and how others find resilience and courage in difficult times. Her work includes Ezra Jack Keats BookAward winner A Bowl Full of Peace and Sachiko: A Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivor's Story, which was longlisted for a National Book Award and received a Sibert Honor Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award. Caren and her husband Kim live in Minneapolis.

Selina Alko spends her days melding words and mixed-media art to convey stories of hope and inspiration―as well as an alternative viewpoint. Her books include The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, Can I Touch Your Hair?, Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama, and I is for Immigrants, which was selected a 2022 Best Children's Book of the Year by Bank Street Books. Selina lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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