cover image Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler

Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler

Ibi Zoboi. Dutton, $16.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-399-18738-4

Alternating between verse forms, prose interludes, and direct quotations, Zoboi (The People Remember) recounts the life and career of legendary speculative fiction writer Octavia Butler (1947–2006), emphasizing her beginnings as a “star child” (her middle name, Estelle, means “star”). A sweeping mix of allusive poetry and contextualizing prose traces Butler’s birth during the baby boom and childhood “raised by her mother and grandmother—two hardworking and God-fearing matriarchs” in unsegregated Pasadena, Calif. Portraying Butler as a solitary child who “always seemed distant and aloof,” Zoboi traces the determined figure’s initial forays into literature, first as a reader and then as a creator of worlds. Examples cover Butler’s first novel, penned in her trusty pink notebook at age 10; early submissions to editors at age 13; and her subsequent focus on science fiction and making “imagination her life’s mission.” In a turn toward memoir, one section recounts Zoboi’s commonalities with Butler, including thebirthday they share and conversations between them. More extensive ode than strict biography, this is a fittingly expansive tribute to Butler’s visionary mind and the childhood that sowed it. Ages 10–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Jan.)