cover image When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars

When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars

Valiska Gregory, V. Gregory. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80012-2

Two gracefully told fables, one illustrating the violent consequences of greed and the second proclaiming the benefits of generosity, offer young readers moral food for thought in this exceptional picture book. When Fox sees the sun fall from the sky, he quickly seizes control of the glowing star and, hence, power over his fellow animals. Weasel and Crow try to displace Fox, and the outcome is tragic. In a parallel tale, Bear observes the moon as it falls from the sky. Bear, Spider and their entire community work to restore the moon to its sky home, for all to enjoy. Gregory's (Through the Mickle Wood) poetic imagery and simple sentence structure are a powerful combination, often carrying great emotional resonance (""...but there the sun was, as red as hearts and yellow as gold, trembling""). Her provocative challenge to readers-""only you can say which story is true""-invites open consideration of the text without preachiness. Vitale's (A Christmas Lullaby) dark, stylized oil-on-wood paintings maintain a careful balance between the concrete and the abstract and are perfectly matched to the strong themes at hand. All ages. (Oct.)