Stella, she of the wild mane of bright red hair, the dreamy connection with nature and the unassailable wisdom of the big sister, is introducing her brother Sam to the seashore. Stella, Star of the Sea, is gorgeously illustrated by author Marie-Louise Gay. And it’s funny. Sam is one long question and Stella does her best to allay his considerable fears and turn him on to the fabulousness of the sea.
Sam is brilliant at delay but Stella is determined to get him into the water. Stella has an answer for everything–even when she has to make it up. Which is most of the time. Fortunately, she is very inventive.
“Where do starfish come from?” asked Sam.
“From the sky,” answered Stella. “Starfish are shooting stars that fell in love with the sea.”
This is a wonderful book you can fall in love with and enjoy on many levels. The kids are terrific. There is real trust and affection between them. No grown-ups are in evidence to interfere with the spell Stella is weaving or Sam’s anxiety about a New Thing. The art is studded with rich details like polka dot starfish and Chinese characters on a sun hat/helmet Sam wears as he attempts to dig a hole to China. Sam wants to know if seahorses neigh or gallop or if catfish purr–lots of opportunities for hilarious digressions with little kids if this is a read aloud. And it reads aloud very well. You wouldn’t have to be much of an actor to make it fun.
The beach has a friendly dog who hangs out and a seagull who seems to own the place and a number of sea creatures who pop up in different places page-after-page. Stella, Star of the Sea is an intelligent picture book, the kind childlike grown-ups and curious children are drawn to for repeat readings. For anyone who’s ever veered from love to exasperation and anyone who’s ever hesitated too long to take the plunge–this is the book.
Stella, Star of the Sea (Stella and Sam) Marie-Louise Gay | Groundwood Books 1999