The Healing Star by A. Kidd

The Healing Star

A. Kidd, author

Quiet Storm Publishing, Fictioin, July 15,  2019

Pages: 240

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Stars, Adventure, Magic, Fantasy, Intergenerational relationship, Hope

Book Jacket Synopsis

Feisty fourth-grader Julia’s best friend in the entire universe is her grandmother. Julia and Grammu share secrets while cooking soup together, stay up late eating junk food and watching scary movies, and go stargazing on Blackberry Hill. They even wish on the same star every night.

But everything changes when Grammu catches the disappearing disease: little by little, she’s turning invisible. If Julia can catch a falling star, then her wish to save Grammu will come true. All Julia needs to do now is find the legendary ladder to the stars…

Why I like The Healing Star:

A. Kidd has written a magical story filled with heart and hope. Pause a moment to gaze at the beautiful fairy-tale cover.

What really stands out in The Healing Star is the endearing bond between Julia and her grandmother.  They stay up late watching scary movies and sharing secrets. They enjoy cooking together. They snuggle in bed together. Grammu shares wonderful stories about star-catching, healing star dust and the star constellations. They even pick their own star. Julia and Grammu are so close that they think of themselves as cosmic twins. So when Grammu falls ill, Julia has to catch a falling star to save he life.  Julia’s mother is skeptical, calling Grammu’s stories “old wives tales.”

When Julia fails to catch a falling star in Miller’s Field one special night, she and her loyal flatulent beagle, Pete, embark upon a dangerous journey to find the legendary ladder that leads to the stars. She discovers magical clouds, cloud people, and a cloud castle with a video game parlor. The story fantasy elements are fun but also teach Julia that not everyone is trustworthy.

This empathetic novel also dives into the uncertainty of life — disaapointment and loss — that many young people experience in their daily lives with loved ones.  It is a story about family and how we keep those memories in our hearts forever. The ending is very moving and will surprise readers. Julia will inspire readers to find  their own inner strengths during difficult times. This novel is a perfect read-aloud for younger kids and a read-alone for middle grade readers.     

A. Kidd is the middle child in a family of three girls. She started making up her own stories at age four. Because she couldn’t yet write, her mom wrote the stories down for her while she painted the pictures. Her first story was called Wagland and featured an island community with sea creatures that ate tuna fish sandwiches.

She has a B.S. in Written Communication with a minor in Language, Literature, and Writing from Eastern Michigan University and an MLIS with a specialization in children’s librarianship from Wayne State University. Her poetry has been published in literary magazines. A. Kidd lives with her husband and daughter in a suburb of Detroit, MI. The Healing Star is her debut novel. She often wishes on stars but hasn’t caught one yet. Connect with A. Kidd through her Facebook page.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a review.



A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

Grace Lin, Author and Illustrator

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Aug. 28, 2018

Caldecott Honor Book

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Moon phases, Stars, Chinese Moon Festival, Asian Holiday, Baking Mooncakes, Multicultural

Opening: Little Star’s mama laid the Big Mooncake onto the night sky to cool. “Now, Little Sar,” Mama said, “your Moon cake took us a long time to bake, so let’s see if you can make it last awhile.”

Publisher’s Synopsis

Pat, pat, pat…
Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake.
Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?
In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.
Why I like A Big Mooncake for Little Star:
Such a charming and gentle bedtime tale about a little girl who promises her mama she’ll wait until she’s given permission to eat the Mooncake she and her mama bake for the annual Chinese Moon Festival. But the temptation to take just a nibble is too great and Little Star sneaks a tiny nibble of the sweet treat. Readers will identify with Little Star and enjoy the anticipation of her journey. What will she do next?
I love that the story is a based on folklore and Chinese cultural tradition. But it also focuses on the phases of the moon in a delightful way that will illicit many chuckles from children. The ending is heartwarming. Grace Lin wrote the book for her daughter, because it’s one Lin’s favorite Asian holidays.
Grace Lin’s text is sparse, gentle and a bit mischievous. Her illustrations are stunning. The background on each page is shiny black, with Little Star wearing black PJs with bright yellow stars. Little Star’s expressions are warm and tender. The clever double-page spread in the center of book depicts the moon phases in a entertaining way.  
Resources: Make sure you check out Grace Lin’s Note at the end of the story, as well as the endpapers. Bake a mooncake with your children. This book can be used throughout the year, but it especially meaningful during the Autumn Festival and perhaps during the new lunar year.  Help children bake their own mooncake. Grace Lin has a recipe on her website.
Grace Lin is a Newberry author and National Book Award Finalist of books including Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same, and The Ugly Vegetables. Grace lives in Massachusetts. She invites you to visit her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*I won this book in a holiday picture book giveaway by Max on Completely Full Bookshelf, where readers can find enthusiastic reviews about books in all genres.