What are stars? It’s a classic question to hear from a small child, one that is commonly heard at bedtime when they twinkle out the window. It is this question that is answered in “The Star Bright Factory,” written by Nancy Libbey Mills and illustrated by Holly Lynette Hagan, both Durangoans.
A perfect bedtime story for the longer nights of the year, “The Star Bright Factory” tells of where stars come from and how they are made (shooting stars are processed differently than the ones that twinkle). There is a factory in the sky called The Star Bright Factory where bears make the stars, galaxies, moons and planets that we see at night, and they launch them into the sky so that we can wish on them.
This prose is charming, lyrical and rhythmic, loosely structured with occasional rhyme. Mills often plays on words, filling dippers and asking if all moons have men on them, using questions to advance the story and adding a mysterious and fantastical quality to the story. The sentences are simple. And heavy use of alliteration gives them a slow bouncy rhythm that drives the prose, making it fun to read for adults and calming for children.
The illustrations in this book are spectacular. Hagan’s use of color makes the stars and bears in each picture pop; the composition for each is beautiful. Her use of texture and pattern add depth and dimension, making each picture interesting and complex, while her use of blues is extremely calming. The subjects of each picture are fantastic, often looking up into the sky in wonder, asking the questions that the reader is prompted to ask by the prose. In every illustration, the bears have their eyes closed, as if they are happily dreaming of where all the stars come from.
This book is fantastic. It has no main character, instead appealing to the curious child in each of us and encouraging us to ask questions about the world that we live in. It prompts the reader to figure out how and why things are the way that they are and to continue to ask questions so that we can come to better conclusions about the nature of the world we live in.
I think my favorite thing about this book was that instead of focussing on the act of wishing on a star, it focusses on what a star is and how it got there.
This is an infinitely more interesting topic, and one with a much more rewarding answer, for both adults and children, encouraging us to ask questions in order to gain a better understanding of our world.