Reviewed by Justice Sahaydak
George Ella Lyon’s My Friend, the Starfinder is a simply worded picture book with gorgeous artwork by award-winning Stephen Gammell that could fill both a child and an adult with a sense of wonder. This story is a woman’s recollections of the stories she was told as a child by her elderly neighbor about when he was a boy. At one point he finds a fallen star and shows her the rock left over. He also tells a story about finding himself at the end of a rainbow, and while he does not have proof for that, the narrator believes him.
Throughout the story, there is a sense of childlike belief and awe at the magic in the world. It is easy enough to marvel at this magic because it is conveyed so well with the gorgeous, watercolor-style pictures. Most of the pictures are black and white, fading away at the edges to a blank page. Such a world strips away unimportant details and focuses on the dreamy wonder of a scene, like when the rainbow pours over the little boy in bright colors. In that moment, the reader sees the sky and the color and the character, but little else. They are left to marvel at both the situation and the artwork.
This is not ‘adventure’ in the normal sense of the word–there are no dragons to slay or royalty to rescue. But the character has exciting, magical experiences, experiences that translate into stories. There is no distraction from the magic, no obvious theme besides wonder. There is only a child’s belief in a magical world, the wonder at the beauty of it, and the sense of adventure that goes along with that.
My Friend, the Starfinder by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Stephen Gammell, Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2008
Justice takes breaks from reading and writing for her undergraduate English degree by reading and writing a little more.