Sunday, June 5, 2011

Picture Books: Stella series (by Marie Louse Gay)

Recently, I have read several books in the Stella series by Marie Louise Gay.  I find myself drawn to this character because of her whimsical imagination and pure heart.  One of my favorite aspects of these series is the sibling relationship.  Stella mothers and mentors her little brother, Sam, in a child-like, sweet manner.  Sam is inquisitive but a bit apprehensive during new experiences.  The stories are a brilliant blend of fantasy and reality.  Two selections that are perfect for summer reading are Princess of the Sky and Star of the Sea. 

Stella and Sam are spending the day at the sea shore.  It is Sam’s first time at the beach.  Stella was there once, before Sam was born.  She knows all the secrets of the sea.  Sam is full of questions, and Stella always knows the answer.  First, he wants to know if the water is cold and deep, but he also wonders if there are any sea monsters.  Stella assures him, “the water is lovely…and not a sea monster in sight.”  She encourages Sam to come in, but Sam hesitates.  Questions pour out like water on the sand.  He asks where starfish come from.  Stella tells him, “Starfish are shooting stars that fell in the love with sea.”  Then, he wants to know if the stars were afraid of drowning.   He has nothing to fear, though, because Stella assures him they learned to swim.  Together they discover shells from the moon and that “you can ride a sea horse bareback.”  Sam continues with numerous questions which reflect his age and attempt to mask his fears of the water.  Eventually, with Stella’s calming answers and confident demeanor, Sam realizes that the sea is a fun place to play and to swim.   

Sam is alarmed by the red tints in the sky.  He runs to his big sister, Stella, declaring that the sky is on fire.  Stella knows better though.  She comforts him by telling him, “The sun is just going to sleep…It’s wearing red pajamas.”  Of course, Sam wants to know where the sun goes to sleep.  Stella informs him that the sun sleeps “on a fluffy cloud…and every morning the sun jumps into the sky.”  On rainy days the sun sleeps in.  The pair decides to spend the night outside, where they hear a symphony of night sounds.  Sam continues with his incessant questions about the animals and the moon.  He asks:  Does the moon live in the lake?  Does it swim? Does it have wings?  Stella’s fanciful answers sooth her little brother.  They see and hear an owl, a frog, bats, fire flies, and a pack of raccoons.  The night would not be complete without an exploration of the sky with its millions of stars that look “like the moon spilled a glass of milk.”  They curl up in warm blankets, reminiscing and relaxing.  Sam realizes there is nothing to fear in the night. 

Other Stella Books:
Stella: Queen of the Snow
Stella: Fairy of the Forest
When Stella Was Very, Very Small

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