Genre: Illustrated Children’s Book
“The story of an eight-year-old boy who discovers he has cancer. The author transforms an otherwise unpleasant topic into an uplifting and useful resource for parents and children dealing with cancer. The boy’s triumph over cancer leaves the reader feeling joyful and comforted and serves as a testimony to the power of perseverance and love. The story promises to provide a positive perspective on the many negatives of childhood cancer. The illustrations give life to the boy’s courage and determination in a colourful and cheerful way!”
“Mary E. Fam, an Educator, has taught students of all ages locally and abroad. She also serves her community as a Youth Mentor. In addition to her Master's thesis/dissertation ‘The Social and Academic Effects of Bullying’ (Fam, 2006), Mary has published various articles on teaching tools that promote student success and been involved in curriculum development at elementary and secondary levels. She is a member of numerous educational organizations that specialize in professional development for teachers and excellence in Education.”
I gave The Princess, my nine year-old granddaughter, several children's books to read and then quizzed her about them afterwards. Two were Mary Fam's books, The Idea Tree and The Stars Twinkle Brightly. As soon as I mentioned the first of these in our Q&A session, she smiled and with excitement in her voice said, "I really like this author."
When The Princess said, "I really like this author," she was talking about both books. This one received an A++ from her, as well as getting the nod when asked to pick her favorite of the two. When I asked her favorite part, I was surprised that her answer was the beginning. She then quoted the first line of the book from memory, "The stars twinkle brightly when the night is quiet and calm." It makes sense that catching the attention of a young reader from the beginning matters at least as much as with older readers and there was something about this opening line that hooked her.
However, the story, about an eight year-old diagnosed with cancer, obviously interested The Princess as well. She related to the challenges the protagonist of this story went through to some she'd gone through, and she commented in comparison to the girl with cancer in this story, her experience hadn't been so bad.
When I read it, I agreed; it was a good story, and would be especially well suited to a child of this age who is going through this experience or knows someone who is. (The author went through this when a child, which lends authenticity to the story.) If The Princess' reaction is a good indication, the target audience is also capable of relating the story to their own lives and experiences.
Although I noticed at least one word using UK spelling conventions (colour) and there might be others I missed, it didn’t seem to be an issue for The Princess, which is how it should be. I’ve noticed that she, and I’m guessing many young readers, who are still developing skills in spelling and constantly increasing their vocabularies through their reading, don’t get hung up on such trivial matters as they focus on the story and work out what words they haven’t encountered before are and what they mean.
Added for Reprise Review: The Stars Twinkle Brightly by Mary Fam was a nominee in the Children’s Books category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran October 25, 2012.
No significant issues
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl with input from The Princess
Approximate word count: 2,100-2,200 words