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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Daniel and His Starry Night Blanket: A Story of Illness and Sibling Love by Sally Loughridge is a beautiful and very special story for young children who have a sibling with cancer or other life threatening illness. Daniel is given a lovely blue blanket with stars on when he is born, and it becomes very special to him. At age four, his older sister becomes ill with cancer and things change at home. Daniel feels unsettled, upset, left out, and sometimes angry at all the changes and the extra attention and help Kate needs. But Mom and Dad and his grandmother are wise and sensible, and eventually Daniel begins to understand and finds a very special way to show his love for his sister.
Sally Loughridge’s book is ideal for sharing with a child who has a very sick sibling. Young children can find such situations frightening and bewildering, and may experience a range of strong and strange emotions both within themselves and observed in the adults in their lives. Daniel and His Starry Night Blanket can be a way to help them feel reassured, loved, and safe at such a difficult time. The characters in the story are very believable. I love the way the story begins with Daniel’s special arrival, moves on to his relationship with Kate, and then reveals all the sadness but eventual hope as the whole family deals with Kate’s illness. Children will easily identify with Daniel and his worries, but will also see how much he is loved. Parents or other adults sharing the book with a child can use the story and its various scenes as a way to gently encourage the child to talk about their own situation, worries, and feelings.
I think books like this can be immensely nurturing and healing, and leaving the book for the child to find again after sharing will enable further absorption of the special messages within it. The illustrations are appealing, complement the story perfectly, and give rise to lots of discussion too. At the end of the book, Sally Loughridge, who worked as a psychologist with families of very sick children, has included very useful sections on how to use the story with children and in adult discussion groups too. Beautifully written, created, and presented, this is a story that can make a difference. Recommended.