cover image STARS! STARS! STARS!


Bob Barner, Chronicle Books, . . Chronicle, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-3159-8

In this poetic ode to the night sky, Barner (Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!) gives a child's awestruck account of the stars and the solar system's nine planets. Collages of cut and torn paper, saturated with deep blues and luminous yellows, suggest early evening. A silhouetted child hoists a telescope and looks up at a sprinkling of stylized five-pointed stars, while rhyming phrases dance and swirl across the pages: "Shooting stars/ streaking tails of sparkling light/ The Big Dipper holding a scoop of night." The diaphanous poetry and the radiant, imprecise illustrations complement one another, but Barner stumbles in his delivery of quantitative information, which seems misplaced in this exercise. While the casual main text introduces the planets and pictures some fanciful stellar groupings (which appear to be based on the Hare, Whale and Little Fox constellations), a glossary of astronomical terms declares, "There are 88 constellations in the sky" and "The Sun has been burning for about 5 billion years." This open-ended data interrupts the reverie without providing real substance for reflection. Barner's pleasingly illustrated volume is most appealing when it marvels at the firmament. Ages 4-8. (May)