cover image THE STAR BLANKET


Pat Brisson, , illus. by Erica Magnus. . Boyds Mills, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-889-0

The importance of family stories and traditions comes through in this warm tale of Laura and the hand-stitched blanket given to her by her father. The blanket, decorated with 41 stars, was a present to Laura's father from his grandmother on the day his baby sister was baptized. Every night, Laura asks for "the story of the Star Blanket." As Dad tells Laura of his boyhood, he explains that each star stands for a beloved member of his large extended family and, just as he learned to do for family gatherings long ago, he can still recite the name of every grandparent, aunt, uncle and cousin represented by the 41 stars. "When I finished," recalls Dad of his first performance at a Christmas celebration, "everyone clapped, and my Uncle Dave gave me a silver dollar and said, 'And see that you don't forget a single one.' " Brisson's (The Summer My Father Was Ten ) lyrical prose harmonizes with Magnus's (The Boy and the Devil ) radiant, painterly three-quarter spread watercolors, which alternate between breezy snapshots and emotionally intense close-ups (Dad as a boy, enduring some good-hearted teasing in the backseat of the family DeSoto, or sitting in rapt, prayer-like attention at grandma's knee). Just as the star blanket envelops Laura, author and illustrator surround readers in the memories, faith and never-ending love that bonds a family together, generation to generation. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)