Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler

Dutton. Jan. 2022. 128p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399187384.
Gr 5 Up–Zoboi’s biography of science fiction author Octavia Estelle Butler details her life from birth in Pasadena, CA, to her legacy as an author. Raised by her mother and grandmother after losing her father when she was four, Butler grew up in a non-segregated town filled with opportunities that her mother worked hard to give her. After struggling with dyslexia in school, Butler found reading and storytelling as a way to escape the schoolyard banter, where she found it difficult to connect with her classmates. Butler’s life story is complemented by the history she grew up within, providing context of the Great Depression, World War II, the space race, the red scare, and the Civil Rights movement. Told through poetry, narrative, photographs, newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, story drafts, childhood sketches, quotes, report cards, and war propaganda, this stunning biography is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of literature. Zoboi carefully crafts each chapter of Butler’s life with various types of poetry, using clever rhymes and rhythmic stanzas. Each poem and section of prose elegantly connects to the space theme, painting the picture of Butler as a star child, born out of stardust. The vivid poetry will fill readers’ heads with imagery of the historic journey Zoboi presents. The quick-paced chapters and rich voice will draw readers of all ages into this nontraditional biography.
VERDICT This must-read biography belongs on every library shelf and will redefine the way readers engage with biographical texts.

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