MOONCHILD, STAR OF THE SEA

Geraldine Elschner, Author, Lieselotte Schwartz, Illustrator , illus. by Lieselotte Schwarz, trans. by J. Alison James. North-South $15.95 (36p) ISBN 978-0-7358-1664-0

Striking watercolor compositions and soothing ocean hues buoy French author Elschner's meandering tale of a star that begs the moon to let him experience the wonders of the sea. In the earth's oceans, the fellow "swam with a whale as large as a ship through deep ocean canyons and towering cliffs. He learned from the dolphins to surf the waves and to dive when the ocean was surging with storms." Polish artist Schwarz works in sheer washes of blues and aquas that allow the nubbiness of the paper to show through, giving each spread a quiltlike texture. She chronicles the star's adventures in a dreamy, Chagall-esque style; in one scene, the star becomes part of an aquatic-life garland encircling a large, placid-looking fish. After "he knew that he had learned all he could," the star returns to the sky—and leaves behind "a treasure in hand" (a starfish) for one lucky child. The book's formal, heightened language may make some children fidgety, and the pictures often seem more like visual meditations upon the narrative rather than interpretations of it. But the evocative marine colors and theme may well entice children captivated by starfish to dip their toes into this fantasy. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)