cover image The Stars Just Up the Street

The Stars Just Up the Street

Sue Soltis, illus. by Christine Davenier. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9834-8

“Mabel loved the stars,” writes Soltis (Nothing Like a Puffin)—she could count 19 from her backyard’s “narrow patch of sky,” but in Mabel’s town, the streetlights and houselights make it impossible to experience the kind of prairie night skies that her grandfather recalls from his youth, when “meteors there fell like rain.” What can one kid do? With Grandpa’s encouragement, Mabel begins by urging her neighbors to turn off their lamps and remind themselves of the celestial show above their rooftops (“Look, the Big Dipper!” shouts one neighbor in amazement). Then, by marshalling support from more townspeople and reminding the mayor that everyone was once a starry-eyed kid, Mabel succeeds in getting the town to dim the streetlamps during the next new moon. A crowd turns out on the hill up the street from where Mabel lives, and stargazing becomes a community tradition, with “telescopes, binoculars, egg salad sandwiches, and strawberry pies.” Davenier (Snowy Race), whose talents seem tailor-made for this material, matches the text’s plainspoken momentum. Animated ink washes capture both Mabel’s earnest determination and the wonder of what means so much to her: a dark night sky of deep blue and lavender, gloriously dotted with stars. Ages 3–7. [em]Author’s agent: Susan Hawk, Upstart Crow Literary. Illustrator’s agency: Studio Goodwin Sturges. (Mar.) [/em]