Review of Bright Star

Bright Star
by Yuyi Morales; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.    g
9/21    978-0-8234-4328-4    $18.99
Spanish ed.  978-0-8234-4784-8    $18.99

Morales’s (Dreamers, rev. 9/18) latest sensitive and evocative picture book opens with a wide-eyed whitetail fawn curled up in a creosote bush, guilelessly peeking up at the reader. Its mother is close by, and spare, tender language (“Breathe in / then breathe out / hermosa creatura”) conveys a loving relationship between the two, as they set out among desert plants and flowers, passing a diversity of inhabitants — roadrunners, quail, hummingbirds, butterflies — that represent the ecosystem of the borderland setting. Embroidered text appears in differing sizes and colors emphasizing the words’ meanings, from bold exclamations (“¡Mira!”) to a faint, nestled “Te amo.” Slowly, a grayish plume emerges, alerting the creatures to danger, and precipitating the separation of the mother and fawn. As dust envelops the spreads, the threat becomes clear: a border wall. Though never mentioned in the text, the wall’s harmful effects on the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert are illustrated and explained in the author’s note. Thoughtfully layered images brimming with detail are given texture and perspective through the use of acrylics, digital painting, and photographic elements. A seamless transition ties in the poignant underlying analogy with the depiction of a group of migrant children whose clothes feature images and patterns of the animals appearing throughout the book. In a final, unfaltering affirmation, the titular message is conveyed once more: “You are a bright star inside our hearts.” Concurrently published in Spanish as Lucero.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jessica Agudelo

Jessica Agudelo is the youth collections coordinator at BookOps for the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library, and a member of the 2023 Newbery committee.

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