Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Stella's Starliner

Stella's Starliner

Spring 2014 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Rosemary Wells
Illustrator: Rosemary Wells
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763614959
Hardcover Price: $15.99

Stella lives in a beautiful house the same color as the comets and stars in the sky. She has a bed that turns into a sofa and back again. On weekends, her father comes home in his truck, and her mother makes pancakes for the three of them; and during the week, she and her mother go to the market to buy peaches for cobbler and to the bookmobile to check out books for the week. It never occurs to Stella that there is anything wrong with her life, until some weasels pass by her beautiful silver house one day and laugh that she must be poor because she lives in a junky old trailer. Stella is suddenly so ashamed that she cannot even tell her mother what the weasels said, for fear of causing her mother the same pain. But then, Stella discovers that one more advantage of the silver Starliner is that it can be hitched to her father's truck and moved to a new place, where there are no weasels, only friends.

This picture book creatively and sensitively combines exposure to social issues of class with an insistence on the omnipresence of beauty and imagination. Wells, the creator of the popular Max and Ruby series, illustrates Stella and her family in customarily warm and engaging style, while depicting the Starliner home and its surroundings as lush, beautiful, and magical, surrounded by stars. The reader is drawn to share Stella's view of her home, so that the weasels' taunts are as distressing and shocking for us as they are for Stella. For some, the ending is a bit too simplistic, implying that protecting a child from absorbing class prejudice can be as easy as moving her to a new place. Nevertheless, Stella's new friends reaffirm her original vision of her home. Both story and pictures make this book well worth sharing with young readers.

Naomi Lesley   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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