________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 21. . . .February 3, 2012

cover

Starfall.

Diana Kolpak. Photographs by Kathleen Finlay.
Markham, ON: Red Deer Press/Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2011.
48 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-88995-469-4.

Subject Heading:
Fantasy fiction-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

** /4

   

 

Two artists new to the children's book world have produced a curious, reflective picture book about goals and dreams and never giving up. At the core of the story are three precepts: "Believe" - "Be Brave"- "Shine."

     Bright photographs show Meera, a female clown in traditional whiteface, searching though a frozen world for the stars. The stars' absence has dictated a never-ending winter. This idea is reinforced in the page layout in which small blocks of text and isolated figures are marooned on large areas of white space.

Meera is wandering and questioning everywhere: "I have to wake up the stars. But how?"

     And a few pages later

"Please tell me how to wake the stars."

     A wooden figure in a fairground fortune-telling booth tells her she must first find the Dream Tree.

      After that, things become really complicated as Meera's search for the Dream Tree turns into having to discover a door. When she opens the door, she is transported to a place of warm weather and water, inhabited by numerous other clowns, after which she is exhorted to get to the Fire Juggler who guards a place where Dreamers live. Finally, the secrets to Meera's success in finding her way (remember those three precepts?) are unveiled. She is returned to the icy landscape of the opening scenes, where a fall of stars on the last page melts winter away.

internal art      Author Diana Kolpak, described as being 'a writer, director and performer' whose family was 'filled with entertainers and superb storytellers,' has written a text which is economical to the point of terseness. All the plot elements fail to come together and frankly, at some points, don't make sense.

      Kathleen Finlay's photos are crisp, and the costuming and backdrops lend a sometimes fantastical, sometimes mysterious and almost threatening air to the work. The pictorial element is definitely stronger than the written one.

A very special book for larger collections of Canadian picture books.

Ellen Heaney is Head, Children's Services, at the New Westminster Public Library in New Westminster, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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