A Net of Stars: 5

Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Author
Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Author Dial Books $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-2087-9
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-8037-2088-6
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This nostalgic picture book harks back to a time when girls wore dresses to the carnival, yet it delivers an ageless message about overcoming fear. When the midway comes to her rural community, Etta is determined that this time she will ride the Ferris wheel with her older brother and sister. But her resolve (""This year I'll be brave"") disintegrates when she reaches the top, and she is humiliated when the attendant interrupts the ride to let her off (""Can't be brave. Can't!""). Jacobson's evenly paced text transmutes the child's fear of the vast, empty sky through a poetic image: when Etta learns that constellations are formed from invisible lines that connect the stars, she takes an imaginative leap that, if she should tumble from the top of the Ferris wheel, the nearby stars will form a net to catch her. Shed's (Dandelions) sun-drenched and moonlit paintings depict the girls' cottony white dresses against the carnival's muted olives, mauves and rust, and the hazy light of still summer days and soft night breezes, slowing the narrative to a delicious drawl. Young readers conquering anxieties of their own will want to linger over this comforting drama. Ages 4-8. (June)
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