cover image My House Has Stars

My House Has Stars

Megan McDonald. Orchard Books (NY), $16.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09529-4

McDonald (Is This a House for Hermit Crab?) turns to geography here, showing vastly different houses from around the world which all have one feature in common: the ""roof"" of stars that hangs over them. Eight colorful, dense vignettes feature a child describing his or her home (""My house has walls made of sheep's wool and a real door in the front of the tent that squeaks like a crybaby""). The ""tour"" of each dwelling, be it houseboat, igloo, skyscraper, yurt, etc., concludes with a reference to the stars above; for example, a child in a pueblo says, ""I see stars, like tiny handprints, where Coyote scattered the mica dust and stars were born!"" Unexplained facts and referents abound, tantalizing readers but also likely to frustrate them: What is a jeepney? Why does the Weaver Princess star go to meet the Ox Boy star? Catalanotto's (Who Came Down That Road?) diffused watercolors show the children in their environments. Facing art, beneath the blocks of text, clues readers into the characters' locations: a hazy map of the world, with the child's homeland circled. The impressionistic style of the pictures suggests as much as it represents. Unfortunately, this approach exacerbates the gaps left in the vignettes. At best this is a lyrical invitation to a scavenger hunt on the reference shelf; otherwise it is essentially a cliff-hanger. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)