Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
A Star Full of Sky is a picture book for children written by Raven Howell and illustrated by Caryn Schafer. Howell, who is an award-winning children’s poet and member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, includes a collection of space, earth and science-based poems that teach sometimes complicated topics in verse that is entertaining, easily understood and brief enough for the most attention-challenged young listeners. From her poem about the Milky Way, to Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf, to the differentiation between a star and a starfish, Howell’s poems are designed to have children thinking and making connections between what they already know and some rather abstract concepts. The Baseball Poem is more down to earth and likely to please young athletes with its taut and sensory-rich description of a home run, and Arrival is all about spring and is filled with the sounds of peepers, buzzing bees and the magic of a firefly filled evening sky. Arrival showcases the author’s use of alliteration to merge sound and sense in describing an early summer evening.
Raven Howell’s collection of poetry for children, A Star Full of Sky, was a delight to read. Each poem teaches as it entertains, and Caryn Schafer’s illustrations work perfectly to build the mood. Howell’s poem, Constellations, is accompanied by a drawing of a humorous smiling bear who seems to be trying to catch stars in the Big Dipper and echoes the poem’s: “The great Bear lumbers in the sky/Connecting every dot.” All too often, children’s verses can be sing-song and forgettable, but Howell’s poems teach children about nature, the stars, the sky and other aspects of science, and each one is a gem to be savored. Watching the Sun Rise celebrates the view of the sun rising over the ocean and personifies it as the sun reaches for the “ocean’s ledge,/Then grasp(s) ahold of it.” Her poem on the man in the moon, entitled A Place for a Face, is humorous and silly, and guaranteed to raise a smile. These poems are perfect for story-time and also suitable for more advanced young readers to try on their own. A Star Full of Sky is most highly recommended.