The Stars

Greystone. May 2023. 72p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781771649193.
Gr 2-4–Yakov, a young boy from an Orthodox Jewish community and Aïcha, a Muslim girl in Montreal, become fast friends as they bond over their mutual interest in space. Both of them hope to one day become astronauts. One night, the two are stargazing, when Aïcha’s hijab slips off, revealing her colorful curls. Her father catches them, yelling at Yakov, who has developed a crush on Aïcha, and whisking her away. Both of their parents are outraged, and they are immediately separated. Yakov desperately tries to reach Aïcha again, but finds she has moved away. Years pass and readers are transported to Yakov’s adulthood, where he is happily working for NASA. He has shed his kippah and payot, implying that he has left his faith. He reunites with Aïcha at an astronomy conference, recognizing her by her hair, no longer covered by her hijab. The book concludes with images of the pair watching the stars with their three small children. Goldstyn’s illustrations are lively and fun, and few readers will be unmoved by the turn of events that reunite Yakov and Aïcha. However, the plot raises many questions for picture book readers. The reasons for the parents’ anger is never explored, while the characters’ choices to leave or downplay their respective faiths is handled without explanation or nuance. By omitting these important details, the story may end up framing religion as an inherently oppressive system.
VERDICT A useful title for units on prejudice, or an exploration of differences and commonalities; educators can bridge what otherwise may make be cryptic to the usual picture book audience.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing