cover image My Friend, the Starfinder

My Friend, the Starfinder

George Ella Lyon, , illus. by Stephen Gammell. . Atheneum/Jackson, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-2738-9

Stories and the people who tell them form one of the main themes of much of Lyon's poetic work, and this sumptuously illustrated book, perhaps Gammell's finest, is no exception. The narrator begins conversationally, “Once there was a old man./ I knew him/ when I was no bigger than you are.” Working in his distinctive style, Gammell (previously paired with Lyon for Come a Tide ) spatters a universe of colors across the page as the child dances with the man, who tells stories on his green porch. “For starters,” the girl says, “he told me once/ he saw a star falling.” The color illustrations give way to black-and-white paintings that convey an astonishing degree of light. The illustrations morph back into full color as the old man puts the star in the girl's hands—“glassy, blackish green/ like puddles around a coal pile.” Lyon never lets readers forget that this is a story they are reading: “Now he couldn't bring home/ the rainbow/ the way he did the star./ But when he told the story/ holding out his hand/ I could feel the colors./ I could see it was true./ And how he would have to tell it/ just like I'm telling you.” Text and art are sure to evoke wonder in young readers. Ages 4-7. (Feb.)