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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
“Have you ever wanted to be somewhere else?” That was Stargazer’s poignant plea. She was tired of being held captive by her stargazer lily. You see, she’s a flower sprite and they live within the colorful petals of their assigned flower. At first, Stargazer, or Star for short, enjoyed her place in the garden: she met all kinds of flower sprites, like Zante, Cristabella, Arabella and Rosabella, and whimsical creatures like Faer the butterfly and Ora the spider. With the advice of Zante’s poignant words, “Each of us is a puzzle. You will discover who you are from the creatures in the garden,” Star learned the importance of the sun and the moon, the rain, and all the creatures around her. Once she learned all she could about her garden home, she wanted to learn more. She wanted to be like Faer the butterfly and fly away to distant places beyond the garden. But, like Faer told Star, “all you need is your imagination.”
Prue McDonell’s picture book story, Stargazer, is an endearing fantasy, a fairy tale, that focuses on life in the garden and the magic that exists there. The author begins with a prologue that explains the existence of the garden, a dreamlike place in her grandmother’s backyard, a place where she spent hours each holiday while visiting her grandmother. It is in this garden that the author meets Star and listens to Star’s sweet story of her life. The language is simple and almost poetically lyrical with bright, colorful illustrations to help move the story along. From first person narrative from the author’s point of view in the prologue, to Star’s story, also told in first person narrative from Star’s point of view, the plot revolves around Star’s birth, growth, desires and friendships in the garden. The best part of this story is the incredible bonds of friendship between all the flower sprites and the living creatures. Star explains that “Faer and I sometimes disagreed but it didn’t matter, we’d always be the best of friends.” That’s the true meaning of friendship: looking out for each other and not allowing disagreements get in the way of true friendship. This may at first glance appear to be a simple story, but, like all good fairy tales, there are educational and moral values in this story. Beautifully told, a real classic to cherish.