The Tiny Star
by Mem Fox and Freya Blackwood
reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Little children are famous for asking difficult questions – ones adults may think they are too young to fully understand the answer. Children ask questions where the adult may not be confident of answering appropriately. Questions such as ‘Where do babies come from? Where is so-and-so now? (when a loved one has died). Why are we here?
Human beings have complex religious belief systems that do provide answers to these questions but what if you are not quite ready to explain all that existential stuff? Or maybe you are waiting until the child grows up and makes discoveries and develops its own theories? The story in The Tiny Star is one way of raising these matters with a curious child and provides a framework for talking about life and death and all things in between.
A tiny star falls to earth, turns into a baby, grows up and has a family, grows old and disappears to become a tiny star again. The star has a long and fulfilling life as a human being, full of family and friends before it goes back to shine again in the heavens where it continues to gladden the hearts of the people left behind.
This little tale raises many interesting questions. Is it about adoption? The little star providentially falls onto a big old chair left outside a shed where it is promptly found and adopted by a loving couple. Is it about loving and taking care of old people?
” It grew older and older, and older still. and even older than that. The longer it lived, the more it was loved.”
Is everyone a star come down to earth to spend an allotted time before going back to shine in the night sky, or only special very good people?
It certainly beats being told you were found under a cabbage, or bought with lots of saved silver paper (which is what my parents told me), or delivered by the stork. And being a star when you’re dead has the huge advantage of being visible to all the ones you left behind rather than continuing an existence in an invisible heaven or hell.
Blackwood’s glorious artwork in warm hues shows a myriad of situations celebrating family, friendships, and love of all kinds and suffuses the book with a cosy glow. The book is an absolute visual delight celebrating a life well lived. The text is honed down to a minimum of simple words that convey maximum meaning.
A timely reminder of what life is all about for all ages.
Penguin Books 2019 Hardback Picture Book $24.99 ISBN: 9780670078127